2016-02-12 / In the Know

Congratulations are in order for Chief Jackson

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader

Last week the Portland City Council confirmed City Manager Jon Jennings’ appointment of Portland Assistant Chief David Jackson to be the next permanent fire chief of the Portland Fire Department.

Dave is a lifelong Scarborough resident as well as a veteran member of the Scarborough Fire Department. Dave and I and several of our classmates joined the department as soon as we legally could when we turned 16 years old.

We grew up together, played in the band together and graduated from Scarborough High School the same year. This year we will all complete our 40th year of service to the department and our community.

David grew up almost across the street from the Dunstan Fire Station and followed in his brother Don’s footsteps both in joining the Scarborough Fire Department, but also following Donnie into the Portland FD.

Dave quickly became the first driver of Engine 6 and rose up through the ranks to become captain of his home company of Engine 6/Ladder 1 in Dunstan.

Dave did an outstanding job leading his company, earning him a promotion to deputy fire chief in Scarborough where he worked to make huge improvements in our training, fire prevention, and life safety inspection programs.

After high school, Dave worked for me in my seafood business for a while and he eventually became a small business owner himself here in Scarborough operating the variety store and sandwich shop that is now Mad Dog Deli.

After working as a career firefighter in Westbrook for a few years, Dave was hired as a full-time career firefighter in Portland in 1990 where he has faithfully served for more than 25 years. In 2000 he was promoted to lieutenant and was stationed at Ladder 3 on Steven’s Avenue. He made captain in 2004 and was transferred to Ladder 1 on Munjoy Hill for a short time, then back to Ladder 3. In 2010 Dave was promoted to deputy chief of special operations primarily focusing on the airport and marine divisions. When former Chief Jerome LaMoria reorganized the leadership of the department in 2014 Dave was promoted once again, this time to assistant chief in charge of emergency operations including all emergency response activities and training. When LaMoria retired last October, City Manager Jennings promoted Dave to acting fire chief.

One of the things I’ve always admired about Dave is that he never forgot where he came from. Throughout his impressive rise through the ranks in his full time career in Portland, he continued to be extremely active in the Scarborough Fire Department. He built our fire prevention and inspection program. Became a certified plan reviewer and fire inspector and worked part-time as our fire inspector for 25 years. During that time our community was going through a period of significant residential and commercial growth. He was responsible for all the plan reviews, inspections, and coordination with developers, contractors, and business owners for hundreds of projects.

Dave continues to be a Scarborough resident and serve his home community. He and his wife, Debbie, have three daughters and a new granddaughter.

It is becoming increasingly rare, especially in Maine, to find individuals that grow up in town, get married, settle down, and serve their communities for as long as Dave has. I’ve enjoyed our friendship as well as our professional relationships and want to extend my sincere congratulations to David on his stellar career in both fire departments.

You have worked hard for everything you have achieved and we all wish you the very best as you take the reins and continue the tradition of strong leadership as chief of the Portland Fire Department. Congratulations chief.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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