AUGUSTA – Leadership at the local, county and state levels and efforts to advance firefighter safety and training were among the reasons cited for naming Bangor Fire Chief Jeff Cammack tops in the state.
During the Maine Fire Chiefs Association’s annual business meeting, Cammack became the first Bangor fire chief to be named Maine Fire Chief of the Year since the association began the award program in 1992.
About 30 well-wishers – including city officials, friends, neighbors and three generations of the chief’s family – were at the Augusta Civic Center to cheer him on.
“This is a great honor,” Cammack said after accepting the award.
“It is certainly an honor because all of these people [his fellow fire chiefs] are Type A personalities,” Cammack said.
Council Chairman John Cashwell said the award was notable because his fire service colleagues presented it.
“There’s no higher honor than being recognized by your peers,” Cashwell said.
In his letter of nomination, City Manager Edward Barrett wrote that Cammack “is widely recognized by his peers as an innovative and dynamic leader. … He has earned and enjoys the respect of elected officials, those he works with in city management, union representatives and the firefighters in his department.”
Cammack began his career with the city fire department in 1979 after earning an associate degree in fire technology from Southern Maine Technical College. Cammack then rose quickly through the ranks, being promoted to lieutenant in 1988, captain in 1989 and assistant chief in 1994.
Though he was the youngest of the city’s four assistant chiefs, Cammack was promoted to chief two years later.
During the award ceremony, Barrett said nominating Cammack for the chief’s post was “one of the best decisions I think I’ve made.”
“Jeff is a stand-up guy,” Barrett said during the award ceremony. “You always know exactly what he is thinking.”
Besides serving as the city’s fire chief, Cammack is chairman of the Maine Fire Commission, president of the Penobscot County Fire Chiefs Association and, at the national level, a director at large for the emergency medical services section of the International Fire Chiefs Association. He also has provided his time and expertise to his hometown fire crew, the Dedham-Lucerne Volunteer Fire Department.
Under Cammack’s leadership, the Fire Department has developed an aggressive fire prevention program that led to a drop in working fires and greatly expanded its role in emergency medical services.
Cammack has been at the forefront of many key countywide initiatives, including a mutual aid agreement and emergency response team.
Though city officials were bursting with civic pride, few were prouder than his wife, Carmen, and parents, Ralph and Laurie Cammack of Bangor.
“You’d better believe it,” Laurie Cammack said. “He’s worked hard. He never stops.”
“He’s a smart boy,” the chief’s father said.