Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre will step down this summer after 36 years with the department. File photo

GORHAM — Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre is retiring after 36 years with the department.

“To my family and friends, after serving for the last 36 years as Gorham’s Fire Chief and 51 years in the Fire Service I have decided it is time to retire in July,” he announced on Facebook. “While one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, it is time.”

Lefebvre, 68, said Tuesday that he has had a great career and wishes he could extend it another 10 or 15 years.

“Its never been a job for me. It has been a journey,” he said.

Still, he said, he’s found it difficult of late to get out of bed at night to head out to a fire scene. He cited the stress of the job.

“The phone is tied to your hip,” he said.

He pointed to the death last year of Gorham Police Officer Wayne “Poochie” Drown, who suffered a heart attack at age 64. Last September, former Gorham Police Chief Dan Jones also cited Drown’s death as an impetus for his retirement at age 54.

“It’s a wake up call,” Lefebvre said.

He plans to relax and let the stress go. He enjoys golf and has a woodworking shop and he said he and his wife will do some traveling.

Town Council Vice Chairman Ronald Shepard, retired police chief, said Wednesday he and Lefebvre always respected each other’s opinions.

“I wish him the best,” Shepard said.

Lefebvre was appointed part time chief in Gorham in 1984 , succeeding John Chandler. He was named the town’s first full time chief in 1987. He has been honored with several awards including Cumberland County Fire Chief of the Year.

His career began in his hometown with Westbrook Rescue while still a high school student and became a full fledged firefighter there in 1971.

The town will advertise for a new chief in the next two weeks, said Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak. Shepard said, “He’s going to be big shoes to fill.”

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