Rockland fire chief recalls 25 years of service
Rockland — Fire Chief Charlie Jordan Jr. has decided that May 1 — his 25th anniversary date with the Rockland Fire Department — will be his last day of service.
"The only thing worse than leaving too early is staying too long," said Jordan of his recent resignation announcement.
Jordan, whose family has had a long history in real estate in the Midcoast area, is reentering that arena as a commercial appraiser.
"It's been a blast," said Jordan who said his decision comes as he thinks about the later years of his life. "I always will be doing something," he added noting his parents Charlie Sr. and Mary are still working.
A couple of friends had convinced him to join the fire department — after much coaxing — in 1989. "I loved it from minute one," he said.
Jordan enjoyed getting into "the meat of it quicker," explaining that back then regulations were much different. He was training in a burning building on his third drill. "There is so much more to training now," he said.
Prevention is the biggest part of training, according to Jordan. "Fire suppression is failure of all the other preventions," said Jordan.
The fire department concentrates on prevention in the schools and seeks appropriate code enforcement, especially when it comes to apartment codes and residential sprinklers — which he said the department has taken some heat over in the past few years.
"A great many of the apartments within the city use to be single family homes," said Jordan. "Now they're split into apartments .... that's where the codes come into play."
"Prevention is always better. The fact that we do not have that many fires doesn't happen by mistake," said Jordan. He said the most fires he has seen in his tenure on the force was when he was on vacation in the Bahamas for 15 days in 1990. "There were five fires I missed," he said.
One of the worst feelings being a firefighter is standing there wanting to do something and not being able to, said Jordan. "Thankfully that doesn't happen that often."
Jordan recalled one of the best feelings as a firefighter and what really hooked him.
In January 1990 the Seaview Garage, which was also a tire warehouse at the end of Rockland Street caught fire. "The people who owned the cottage-style house just above it evacuated with the thought they would probably return to nothing," recalled Jordan.
Through great planning and effort on the part o the fire department, led then by Chief Raymond Wooster, the couple returned the next day to find their home in tact.
"Just seeing the expression on their faces made it worth all the effort and hours we put in," said Jordan.
Jordan said it has been a rewarding job, especially the appreciation shown by the people he has served and the faith the prior chief and the association has had in him.
The department currently has 19 full-time personnel and 12 on-call. That is down from the 50 who were available when he first started on the department. It is not yet known who will step into Jordan's shoes.
Jordan — who has two grown children Mackenzie and Jeffrey, and lives in Camden with his wife Robin — hopes to be reasonably healthy and active for many years to come, and dreams of "hopping on a plane to Chicago, renting a muscle car convertible and driving along Route 66 to the coast."
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at email@example.com.