Friday, December 26, 2014

Windham welcomes new fire-rescue chief - By Elizabeth Richards

Early next month Brent Libby will take the reins as the new fire-rescue chief for the Town of Windham.
Libby will replace long time fire-rescue Chief Charlie Hammond, who is retiring. Hammond has been the fire-rescue chief in Windham since 1985, serving on a part-time basis initially and becoming the town’s first full time chief in 1992. Hammond was recently named Maine Fire Chief of the Year by the Maine Fire Chiefs’ Association. It will be a big transition, Libby said. “Chief Hammond’s been here a long time,” he said. “It’s a tough act to follow.”  He’s confident that the transition will be smooth, and the two have met and will continue to meet in the weeks leading up to Libby starting full time. 
Some goals will carry over from Hammond and Libby said he plans to do a needs assessment as well, talking to members of the department to determine where to go next. Important information will be gained as Windham reviews their comprehensive plan and the community determines what they want the town to look like in the next ten to fifteen years, Libby said. 

Libby grew up in Gorham and is currently a resident of Standish. He said he would like to move to Windham in the future. “It’s important to live and work in the community, especially with that type of position,” he said. He’s already quite familiar with Windham, he said, since it’s where most Standish residents do their shopping.
Libby began his career as a junior firefighter in Gorham while in high school. After graduating from Gorham High School, he studied paramedicine at SMCC. He started his full time career in the town of Standish in 2004. For the past five years he has served as that town’s Director of Public Safety. 

The decision to leave Standish wasn’t easy according to Libby. “You make a lot of great friends, meet a lot of good people and you know a lot of people in the community,” he said. “I’ll miss that, but it will be good to rebuild those relationships in this town.”

The job in Windham appealed to Libby because it’s a larger town with more challenges, but still offers a tight knit community feel. “It felt right to come here,” he said. Jobs of this type aren’t available very often said Libby, and he didn’t have any interest in moving away or going to a very large department at this point in his career. “Windham is the best of both worlds. It’s the place where people come, but it’s still very much a big small town. You still have the community events, you’re out in the community,” he said. Because the Standish and Windham departments work together, he said he already knows a lot of people, and the move was a logical next step for his career.

The Windham Fire-Rescue Chief position has more narrow scope than his position in Standish, said Libby, which also appealed to him. As director of public safety, he handled everything except law enforcement, from animal control to harbormaster, health and emergency management to fire and EMS. In Windham, he will oversee fire, rescue and emergency management.

Libby said it will be important to talk with as many people as possible, do a lot of observation, and figure out what direction the department needs to move in to be an efficient service for the town. His position in Standish ends on January 2nd, and he begins full time in Windham on January 5th.

Libby said he spends a lot of time at work, but in his free time he enjoys doing anything outside. He’s currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in Fire Science through Kaplan University, and visits his twin sister and his brother in Boston frequently.

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