Retired Deputy Fire Chief John Hayworth, who served with the South Portland Fire Department for more than 25 years and was active in the International Association of Fire Fighters Local No. 1476, died Saturday. He was 86.

Mr. Hayworth, known by most people as “Jack,” joined the fire department as a volunteer for the city’s Thornton Heights Engine Company 6. He became a full-time firefighter in 1958 and served at Central Station. On Dec. 31, 1969, he was one of nine hospitalized after the oil tanker explosion of the Dean Rainauer docked in South Portland. He recovered from his injuries and worked himself up the ranks to deputy fire chief. He retired in 1984.

Mr. Hayworth was recognized Thursday for his dedication to the department and his efforts to train call members and permanent staff.

“He was very devoted to the fire department,” said Deputy Fire Chief Miles Haskell. “It was pretty much his life. He enjoyed it. He wanted the department to be the best it could be.”

Mr. Hayworth was a charter member and former two-term president of Local No. 1476. From 1963 through 1971, he served six years as president, one year as vice president, and another year as secretary/treasurer.

Capt. Mike Williams said Hayworth fought for collective bargaining rights for firefighters and worked closely with legislators to pass the 1965 Firefighter Bargaining Law, now known as Title 26.

“Until the law passed, firefighters could not collectively bargain,” Williams said. “He believed that members needed to be recognized and have a say in their benefits and wages. He was a guy that liked taking on the challenge. He was the one paving the road for us (to be) where we are today. It required a lot of effort on his part and the guys who worked with him.”

In the years after he retired, Mr. Hayworth kept in touch with people he served with. His son, Steve Hayworth, who also served in the fire department, died back in 2010. The younger Hayworth would often take his father to visit Central Station and to gatherings of call members for Engine 6.

Mr. Hayworth lived in South Portland. He was the loving husband of Eleanor Hayworth, his wife for 51 years. The couple raised four children. In his early years, he worked as a carpenter and built his own home in South Portland.

His daughter, Linda Brenner, of New York, remembered her father Thursday as a man who had a tough exterior, but a warm and generous heart. She noted his service to the community and his devotion to family.

“My brother became a firefighter because he wanted to be just like my dad,” she said, reflecting on their relationship. “This past summer, he told me he was proud of me. It’s nice to hear it. Of course I always knew he loved me. He just didn’t say it.”

Brenner touched on her parents relationship. Her mother died Nov. 22, 1999. “They were soulmates. He was dedicated to her,” she said.

Mr. Hayworth was active in the Knights of Columbus and the Lions Club. He was also an active member of St. John the Evangelist Church until its closing in 2013.

“He taught us all about community service and giving back,” Brenner said.