NORRIDGEWOCK — The practice of firefighting, much like everything else, has changed dramatically over the last five decades, but what hasn’t changed with Norridgewock’s fire service in that time is its leadership.

Town officials and residents on Monday at the annual Town Meeting honored David Jones for 50 years of service to a fire department that also provides coverage for Mercer. The 70-year-old Jones, just the second fire chief the towns have seen since World War II, is described by colleagues and friends as a steady presence, quiet, reserved and effective.

His career with the department began as a 20-year-old in 1972 following some convincing from the fire chief at the time, Winton Keene.

Fire Chief David Jones, right, and Deputy Fire Chief Todd Pineo, reflect Wednesday on their 27 years working together with the Norridgewock Fire Department. Jones, who plans to retire this fall after 50 with the department, was sworn in as fire chief in 1976. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Four years later Jones became chief after Keene stepped down after 28 years leading the department.

Only one other person has reached the 50-year milestone with the department, a late fire captain named Herb Libby.

“We celebrate not just Dave’s service as chief, but his service to firefighting,” Town Manager Richard LaBelle said Monday. “Most folks who know the chief would agree on one thing that hasn’t changed much in 50 years, his leadership style. Chief is a respected leader, he doesn’t ask anyone to do anything that he himself wouldn’t do. He has kept true to that.”


Jones was presented a silver axe for his achievement. He announced during the Town Meeting that he plans to retire in the fall. His last day is scheduled to be Oct. 5, exactly 50 years after he joined the department.

Norridgewock Deputy Fire Chief Todd Pineo has worked alongside Jones for decades. In moments of distress, Jones maintains a calm composure no matter the circumstances, Pineo said. He reflected back to 2018 when Somerset County sheriff’s Cpl. Eugene Cole was fatally shot.

Pineo said police took over the station as a command post. “We manned the station and fed them,” he said. “(Jones’) steady leadership through the Cpl. Cole event helped the manhunt efforts and provided all the support that our police brothers and sisters needed. David led us through all of that.”

Norridgewock and Mercer fire Chief David Jones holds a 1961 photo of previous fire Chief Winton Keene. Jones, who is retiring later this year after 50 years with the department, took over for Keene in 1976. The two men have been the only fire chiefs the department has had since World War II. The photo is displayed at the fire station in Norridgewock. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

LaBelle echoed similar sentiments.

“Whether a fatal accident, major structure fire or the response to the Cpl. Cole murder and ensuing manhunt, chief remained involved, balanced, tempered and has always led with a steady hand,” LaBelle said. “His tenure of service is remarkable but the true accomplishment is leading in public life and maintaining the confidence of the community for five decades.”

The department has seen several milestones with Jones at the helm. He speaks proudly of a new fire station that was completed in 2016, securing money for two full-time firefighters and stocking the station with new tools and equipment, all without incurring any debt.


Jones, who also works for the Norridgewock Water District and part-time at a garage, considers those moments among his proudest accomplishments during his tenure, but gives credit to others.

“We’ve got some of the best firefighting equipment in Somerset County, a new fire station which was badly needed, two full-time firefighters and we’ve done that all with the support of the town and with good-standing reserve accounts,” Jones said. “The biggest accomplishment is that everything is paid for. We didn’t take out loans to buy anything, we didn’t pay any interest, we’ve always had the money to pay.”

Norridgewock Fire Chief David Jones plans to retire later this year after 50 years with the department. Jones, who was sworn in as fire chief in 1976 and is shown Wednesday at the Norridgewock Fire Department, is only the department’s second chief since World War II. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Following his recognition Monday, which included prepared remarks from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, state Sen. Bradlee Farrin and state Rep. Jack Ducharme, Jones stepped up to the podium to address the crowd.

“Right now, any time I’ve gotta leave town I need to have somebody to cover the town in case there’s a call or fire that comes in,” Jones said. “Some days when I want to leave there was nobody around so I didn’t. After 46 years of asking permission to leave town, it’s time.”


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