DURHAM — There’s a new fire chief in town.
Joseph Moore on March 1 will take the reigns from the town’s chief of 25 years, William St. Michel, who will retire Feb. 28.
Neither Selectman Richard George nor Moore would disclose Moore’s annual salary until it is officially in the town’s budget in April, but St. Michel made just under $58,000 last year.
St. Michel, 62, said he hopes to stay involved in the department as a volunteer.
George, also chairman of the selection committee, said Moore was a unanimous choice of the panel, which included members of the Fire Department, St. Michel, North Yarmouth Fire Chief Greg Payson, and Selectman Todd Beaulieu.
“Joseph’s qualifications speak for themselves,” George said, noting his “exceptional” amount of experience in emergency response.
Moore, 40, began his career in fire and emergency services 22 years ago as a volunteer emergency medical technician in his hometown of Union. Most recently, he was a flight medic with Lifeflight of Maine in Bangor.
He and his family currently live in Rockport, but will be relocating to Durham for the job.
St. Michel said Moore was selected from a pool of 18 applicants.
He said he put applicants “on the spot” during interviews by asking the first question: “This is my town, this is my department. What makes you think I should turn it over to you.”
“(Moore) was the only one that answered the question in a way that was satisfactory to me,” St. Michel said. “He passed on my personal criteria. Now hopefully he lives up to it.”
Moore said he was “humbled, nervous and excited” by being selected.
“This position will allow me to serve the town while letting me manage and balance my home life better than other command positions,” he said. “(It’s) an amazing professional opportunity for me.”
Moore said his interest in the field stemmed from years of watching his father and brothers serve as police officers. He said he knew early on that he didn’t have the temperament for that position, so he began pursuing a pilot’s license and was considering the military.
“When my mother suddenly passed when I was 17, the effort the EMS crew put into trying to save her, and how it clearly impacted them … left a profound impact on me,” Moore said.
A few months later, one of the EMTs who responded to the call asked Moore if he’d like to help him as a simulated victim for an EMT class.
“I knew that night I wanted to become an EMT, just to pay their effort forward,” Moore said. “After my first run as a driver while still in my Basic EMT class, I knew I had found my calling. I dove in head first and never looked back.”
Joseph Moore will become chief of the Durham Fire Department on March 1.