Bath council honors longtime firefighter, first-responder

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BATH — Michael Clarke, whose work protecting lives has taken him from Bath to the World Trade Center, was honored by the City Council Wednesday with a proclamation and city chair.

The 51-year-old joined the Bath Fire Department in 1988. He retired last year as a captain and paramedic to become chief of fire protection services at Bath Iron Works.

The U.S. Navy veteran is a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. He was deployed to New York City on 9/11, and also participated in missions after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

That his own life was at risk wasn’t a consideration, given the intensity of the missions, Clarke said.

“It’s an experience, and you move on,” he said after the meeting. “They take good care of us; we’re all under medical evaluations non-stop, considering all the dust and pieces that we had to work through.”

 “So many people lost so much (on 9/11),” he said. “You realized very early on that day that you were in an entirely different world in that 16 acres of the Trade Center site.”

Clarke said responders operated with tunnel vision.

“It was a mission, we worked it, and I don’t think it was until we got home that we realized what we had been part of,” he said.

For his service there, where he lost 22 friends, Clarke received an expression of sentiment from the 122nd Maine Legislature, a Liberty Mutual heroism award, awards from FEMA and the state of New York, among other honors.

Clarke is married and has one son, and represented Bath as a Democrat in state House District 62 for one term, 2010-12. His community service has included the Bath Rotary Club board, the Sagadahoc County Working Group on Family Violence, the Merrymeeting Bay TRIAD committee, and Mid Coast Hospital’s Family and Patient Advisory Council.

Clarke’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all New York City firefighters. He has also received two medals of honor from the city of Bath for rescue of civilians from structure fires, according to the proclamation.

The declaration, read by Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco, praised Clarke’s “distinguished service as a firefighter, public servant, community supporter and protector of not only the city of Bath, but to wherever his services are needed.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Michael Clarke, left, was honored Wednesday, May 7, by the Bath City Council for 25 years of service. He was congratulated by Councilor Carolyn Lockwood, right, and Councilor Sean Paulhus.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.