Rich C. Kindelan has been named the new fire chief of the Scarborough Fire Department. Courtesy Photo/Town of Scarborough

SCARBOROUGH — Rich C. Kindelan has been named as Scarborough’s new fire chief and EMA director. He replaces Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow who is retiring on Jan. 7, after 20 years as chief and 46 years serving in the department. Kindelan is currently serving as a deputy fire chief for the town of Scarborough. 

“My hope is to build on a lot of the foundations that my predecessors have made and really understand the needs of the community, make sure we are growing in proportion with the way that the town is growing and be able to provide them with the best level of services,” Kindelan said. “I am all about customer service as a chief, I think that we really need to answer all the calls from our community the best we can. I am really hoping that I can just take this department to the next level.” 

After several months of searching, the town manager announced that Kindelan was offered the position upon the retirement of Thurlow. Kindelan began his 28-year career in the fire and emergency department in 1988 as a volunteer firefighter in Connecticut. He served in several departments of all sizes throughout Maine including Gardiner, Yarmouth, and Old Orchard Beach. During his time, he progressed through the ranks from lieutenant, captain, and deputy fire chief. He has 10 years or more of experience in supervising roles and is a member of the Scarborough Fire Department’s senior management team. 

“I started with the town of Scarborough as a deputy fire chief of emergency medical services and I’ve always in my entire career inspired to make the fire chief rank at some point in my career,” Kindelan said. “I worked really closely with the chiefs that were here before I got here, and they certainly helped mentor me and prepare me for this position. The community itself is such a great community and all the other department heads in this community celebrate each others’ successes. It is just a great group of people to work with. We enjoy a ton of support from the community as well it is just a great place to be when you can lead a department that has the support of your community.”

Since joining the Scarborough Fire Department in 2018, Kindelan has had several notable accomplishments during his career. He has successfully obtained grants for the department including from the Bureau of Labor for health and safety initiatives, and the Keep Maine Healthy grant for a machine to test individuals for proper respiratory fit. During the COVID pandemic, Kindelan played a crucial role supporting the challenges that were brought on including assisting town staff with navigating information, contact tracing, PPE ordering, working with  FEMA’s Public Assistance program to be reimbursed for pandemic related spendings that had occurred, and spreading information in a timely manner. In May, Kindelan was appointed as health officer by the town manager.

“Rich has an intimate knowledge of the community, the department and its staff,” Town Manager Tom Hall said. “His professionalism, skill and dedication to the fire service has always been evident, but the challenges of the pandemic have provided an opportunity for Rich to excel by demonstrating his leadership and a steady hand.”

“Rich has done a tremendous job throughout his impressive military and fire/EMS service career preparing him for this opportunity and challenge,” said Fire Chief Thurlow of his successor. “His leadership not only in our department, but also with the town’s senior management team through the challenges of this COVID pandemic, have certainly helped demonstrate some of his many skills and abilities.”

“Pretty early on I was assigned as the go-to for the town for any COVID-related items,” Kindelan said. “I was pretty tuned in at the state level in my position with the Board of Emergency Medical Services. A lot of things I did were coordinating all the ordering of supplies, personal protective equipment and other protective measures for the community.  I did that so I would have the opportunity to use the federal reimbursement model and get that paid for outside of our local taxpayer money. I was able to get reimbursed through the FEMA’s Public Assistant Program for the majority of those. On top of that I also volunteered and led the charge as one of the three departments in Cumberland County to administer vaccines to all public safety employees — police, fire, EMS, federal law enforcement. We had the opportunity to vaccinate close to 1,500 first responders here locally in Scarborough.” 

In 1991, Kindelan enlisted in the United States Air Force as a fire protection specialist. He graduated from the Department of Defense Fire Rescue Academy at the Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois; he went on to serve in active duty in the first Gulf War. He studied Fire Science at the Community College of the Air Force. In 2005, he studied paramedicine at Kennebec Valley Community College.  

Kindelan will assume his new role starting Jan. 10, after Thurlow steps down. Kindelan has already been learning about his new role and deciding on what he hopes to accomplish once he takes over. 

“This past month since the announcement and up through when the chief retires, we spent a lot of time transitioning, showing me where things are, making sure I have all the materials and support I need to be able to take over. I have been really lucky with this transition. I have had the person who is sitting in the seat here to show me some of those things and learn a little bit more before he walks out the door. This last month has really just been transitioning, sharing of information and understanding where everything is kept. Being an internal candidate I feel like I am in a pretty good position because I understand the operation and the makeup of the organization which has provided me with a little bit of an advantage.” 

Due to the increase in COVID cases, the official swearing will take place at a future date.  

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