North Yarmouth fire chief to step down

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Clark Baston has informed the Board of Selectmen that he will not seek re-appointment as the town’s part-time fire chief.

Baston, who also works full-time as road foreman for North Yarmouth’s Public Works Department, told Board Chairman Paul Napolitano in a Jan. 31 letter that as of June 30, he would not accept the next appointment as North Yarmouth Fire Rescue Department chief.

“I look forward to working with the next chief, for a smooth transition,” wrote Baston, who was appointed chief in December 2007 and receives an annual stipend of $4,000 for that service.

Administrative Assistant Marnie Diffin said the fire chief job will be posted first in-house to see if any of the town’s firefighters want to take Baston’s place.

Baston plans to continue serving as road foreman, for which he was hired in July 2008, and to remain as a firefighter with the town.

“Just between the two jobs, it’s a lot of paperwork (and) a lot of responsibility,” he said last week. “… I think it’s actually going to be better for the town, that they have another individual in place that takes a lot of responsibility that I have. … It’s just a good time for somebody else to step in (as fire chief).”

The 51-year-old husband and father of two has been a member of the department since 1976 and was deputy chief prior to becoming chief. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Richard Baston, who he said was chief for about 20 to 25 years.

Baston, also a member of the Wescustogo Hall Committee and Cemetery Commission, has lived in North Yarmouth all his life and said his family’s roots date back to the town’s chartering in 1680.

“I’ve been going to fires since I was old enough to walk out and get in the car and go,” he said, although he didn’t become a formal member until he was old enough to do so at 16. “Helping the neighbors, that’s how I grew up. You went and helped.”

Town Meeting voters last June approved the transition of North Yarmouth’s fire company to a fire and rescue department, which led to the hiring of Ricky Plummer as the town’s first-ever public safety assistant.

“He’s been excellent,” Baston said. “I can’t say enough good about him.”

Diffin praised Baston’s work in heading up the department through its transition, noting that it “has not been an easy transition, but I think he’s done a good job with that. And I will miss him as chief.”

The fire chief is appointed every July. Baston said that if a replacement is found before June 30 and he needs to step down sooner, he’s fine with that.

Baston said he will miss working with the other fire chiefs, although he thinks he will still see them. And he plans to see his fellow North Yarmouth firefighters frequently.

“I’ll still be up here at the fire station every Monday night like I am now,” he said, adding with a laugh, “but I’ll be taking orders instead of giving them.”

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

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Clark Baston plans to step down from his position as North Yarmouth fire chief.

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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.