Old Orchard Beach Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne sits at his desk on Tuesday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Newly hired fire chief Frederick “Fred” LaMontagne is settling into the position and has felt welcomed by the Old Orchard Beach community.

LaMontagne, 56, was hired last month to fill a position vacated by former Fire Chief Ed Dube.

LaMontagne served with the Portland Fire Department for 28 years, with the last 10 years as chief. He left the position in 2012 to work in the private sector, at a computer software company. His job originally was to primarily work with emergency management related software, and when the focus began to shift away from emergency management, he decided to go back into firefighting.

“It was like a hole. There was a void there. I missed being involved in public safety and emergency management,” he said`

Like many in firefighting, LaMontagne knew from a young age that he wanted to join the profession. LaMontagne said his family moved to Gorham, Maine, from Massachusetts when he was 15, and he found himself “the new kid in a new school.” After moving to Gorham, he became friends with other teens who were junior firefighters.

“They got me involved with firefighting, and it’s been the call ever since – public safety,” said LaMontagne.

LaMontagne was active in the Gorham Fire Department for many years, and worked as a Gorham call firefighter while working for Portland until he was named the Portland fire chief.

Firefighters try to derive the most positive outcome from the most challenging situations, said LaMontagne, and what draws him to firefighting is a desire to help people during challenging times.

Old Orchard Beach appealed to him, he said, because of the diverse mix of public safety calls and the uniqueness of the town which changes from a booming tourist destination in the summer to a small town in the winter.

LaMontagne has fond memories of visiting Old Orchard Beach while vacationing at nearby Higgins Beach when he was young, and as an employee of the town, he has found Old Orchard Beach to be very friendly and welcoming.

“I think that’s one of the things I’ve really enjoyed in my short time here. Everyone is coming up and saying ‘hello,’ they’re offering to help, they’re saying ‘if you need anything let us know,’” said LaMontagne.

One of his goals for the department, LaMontange said, is to be more involved in the community, such as on a recent day when the fire department visited children at the town’s summer recreation program and invited the children to run under a hose to cool off.

“My idea with fire service, the more we get involved with the community, the better we are at meeting their needs and understanding their perspective,” he said.

LaMontagne lives in Gorham with his wife and the youngest of his three children. His two older children are grown and live in the Boston area. In his free time, LaMontagne, officiates high school football, likes to fish, work on home improvements, read spy novels and spend time with family.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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