Topsham fire chief takes Lewiston post

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TOPSHAM — Brian Stockdale, the town’s fire and rescue chief for seven years, will resign to fill that role in Lewiston beginning July 27.

“Topsham has been fabulous to me,” the Boston native said in an interview Tuesday, praising the support he’s received from firefighters and town administrators. “… I’ve loved my time here.”

Stockdale, who replaces Paul LeClair as Lewiston fire chief, called that city’s department “excellent,” noting it’s “doing a lot of good things, and I just felt that the challenge that it presented really benefited my professional development and where I’m at in my career, and I just wanted to be a part of that.”

The chief, 45, started in Topsham in June 2010, replacing Ken Brillant, who left to become Brunswick’s fire chief.

“Brian has always been the consummate professional, helpful to anyone who asked, willing to contribute and take on responsibilities, and to work towards improving not only the fire department, but the community,” Topsham Town Manager Rich Roedner said in a statement Wednesday.

Noting Stockdale’s “tremendous impact,” Roedner said, the chief “has taken what was a very competent volunteer fire department and turned it into a new model fire department, based on a small number of full-time personnel, complemented by a large number of per diem employees. This gives us the base coverage of a full-time professional fire department, at a fraction of the cost, with not a loss of competence or skill.

“He has instituted many outreach efforts into the community, whether that is working with different groups or neighborhoods in town on fire safety education, or working with the Red Cross to install smoke detectors in homes, or in working with other fire departments to provide affordable, professional training opportunities,” Roedner added.

The town is updating its job description for the fire chief’s position, in order to “try to capture all of the traits and skills that Brian has given us,” the manager explained, adding that Topsham will immediately begin the search process.

Roedner expects to use existing staff to run the department in the time between Stockdale’s departure and when the town hires a new chief, which the manager said is not likely to happen before September.

Stockdale began his career in the fire service in the town of Hope Mills, North Carolina, where he progressed to the rank of captain. After moving to Maine, he served as a firefighter-paramedic for Brunswick, was chairman of the Department of Medical Assisting at Southern Maine Community College and, for the last seven years, has been the fire and rescue chief in Topsham.

He is a registered nurse and has worked in that capacity at several hospitals, including Maine General, Mid Coast, and the Shriners Burn Hospital in Boston. According to a written statement from Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett, in addition to his nursing degree, Stockdale is a certified Maine paramedic and holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership.

He is an Army veteran and has also served in the Army Reserve. He is on the boards of directors of the Maine State Fire Chief’s Association and the American Red Cross Midcoast Region, and has served in the past on the Maine Board of Emergency Medical Services.

According to the statement, Stockdale was selected in Lewiston after a nationwide search that attracted 32 applicants. A hiring panel composed of the city administrator, Councilor Shane Bouchard, Police Chief Brian O’Malley, retired Fire Chief Paul LeClair and International Association of Firefighters Local 785 President Rick Cailler conducted interviews with the finalists.

“Brian impressed the interview panel based on his varied experiences, strength in strategic planning, emphasis on training, management and leadership abilities, and passion for the fire service,” Barrett said. “All of us look forward to working with him as he takes on this new challenge.”

The Sun Journal contributed to this story. Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

After seven years as Topsham’s fire-rescue chief, Brian Stockdale is leaving the post next month to become Lewiston’s 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.