Gorham’s Deputy Fire Chief Jim Poitras, left, retired this week and Chief Robert Lefebvre departs July 17. Courtesy photo

GORHAM — Retirements are claiming a century of experience in the Gorham Fire Department leadership.

Jim Poitras, 71, retired Tuesday after 28 years as a call deputy fire chief under Chief Robert Lefebvre, 68, whose last day on the job is July 17 after 36 years. Combined, the two have 96 years of experience in the fire service.

Lefebvre is leaving the deputy position open to be filled by his successor.

“It should be the next chief’s decision,” he said this week.

Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said the town is in the early stages of the process to replace Lefebvre.

“My guess would be late summer at the earliest,” Paraschak said.

Lefebvre said Deputy Chief Ken Fickett likely will be in charge of the department until someone is appointed.

Lefebvre, who was appointed part-time chief in Gorham in 1984 and named the town’s first full time chief in 1987, told the American Journal when he announced his retirement in May that being chief “was never a job for me. It has been a journey.” He said he plans to relax and have a stress-free retirement.

Poitras, a combat Army infantry veteran in Vietnam, joined the South Windham Fire Department in August 1975. Gorham shares the station with Windham.

He climbed the ladder to lieutenant/captain in South Windham, Lefebvre said.

Lefebvre said Poitras has been a big part of the Gorham department’s success.

“He’s done a great, great job,” Lefebvre said. “Jimmy is a great guy.”

Both Lefebvre and Poitras are Westbrook natives.

Poitras, a 1967 Westbrook High School graduate, said over his years as a firefighter he has witnessed the coming of thermal imaging cameras, improved protective clothing, the common use of portable radios and more intensive training.

When he started out, he said, he was given some protective clothing cast off by Westbrook.

“It’s like day and night now,” Poitras said.

Poitras was the first deputy on the scene of the raging fire that destroyed the Meserve house and barn in Little Falls 10 years ago.

“It was going,” he said, describing the flames.

“Another big one” was the devastating fire in 2012 that swept the Gorham House of Pizza building in Gorham Village.

Poitras previously retired from his career job as vice president of corporate sales at Mechanical Services in Portland. In retirement, Poitras will enjoy hunting, fishing and camp at Moosehead Lake. He said he and his wife plan to travel.

Tuesday, his last day as a firefighter, Poitras was honored with a cookout at Gorham Fire Department’s Central Station.

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