Skowhegan fire Chief Shawn Howard grills burgers and hot dogs with other firefighters Thursday at a fire training center in Fairfield. Howard announced this week that he’s resigning as the fire chief in Skowhegan after eight years in the post. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Fire Chief Shawn Howard plans to retire effective Oct. 31 after eight years as chief and more than 25 years with the department.

Howard, 44, of Cornville, said he is honored to have worked for the town for so many years — since he was 18, in fact.

“It’s been a privilege to serve in this capacity,” he said. “I’m so thankful for the career that I’ve had. I entered the fire service at just the right moment. I graduated Sunday from high school, Tuesday night I was here for my first class and I think by Wednesday morning I had my career choice.”

Town Manager Christine Almand said Thursday that she will be sad to see Howard go but after more than 25 years, it is a well-deserved retirement.

“I have always seen Shawn as a hard-working and respectable member of the team and was very happy when he stepped into the chief’s position as he is a natural leader,” Almand said in an email. “Shawn brought stability to the department and helped stay ahead of the curve with required and progressive training and updated equipment to meet the needs of the community. He has worked diligently to lead the efforts of planning and construction of our new Public Safety Building. It’s too bad that he won’t be moving with us into the new building, but I wish him the best as he moves into the next chapter of his life.”

Almand has been town manager since 2014 and was finance and human resources director for seven years before that. She said Howard started with the Fire Department as a call firefighter with Engine Company in 1996 and was hired full time in 1998. He attended the Maine State Fire Academy that year. He was promoted to captain in 2008 and to chief in September 2014. He also is a registered Maine Guide and enjoys guiding hunting trips, she said. He and his wife Theresa have two sons, Dalton and Bryson.


Howard said that after retirement he plans to work with his stepfather, Jerry Morin, who owns Morin Auto Sales in Madison.

“I’m really looking forward to spending time with him and working with him,” he said.

Almand said during a phone call that it was no surprise Howard announced he would retire as they had been communicating about it for some time.

“Shawn’s been open with me about this all along, so it was anticipated,” she said.

Asked if she has concerns about the Fire Department’s transition to a new public safety building when it is completed, she said she did not. The building is slated to be built at the corner of East Madison Road and Dunlop Lane.

“We have a really good team and we’ve planned for this transition,” she said. “When someone retires after 24-plus years of service, you know that’s coming.”


Howard said he is happy for the crew at the department to be moving into a new building, which is scheduled for completion in May, and he is please that the community will have it. The public safety building committee has just started discussing what will happen with the current fire station, he said.

“What’s really important to members of the committee is that this building is cared for,” Howard said. “It’s been part of the community since 1904. It’s a beautiful piece of history. It’s a beautiful building.”

Personally, he said, he would like to see it turned into residential use on the upper floor and business space on the bottom.

“I’m probably the only fire chief that can open the back door and watch eagles grab trout out of the river,” he said. “That’s amazing.”

Almand said she hopes that when a new chief is appointed, that person and Howard will be able to work together before Howard leaves.

“Ideally, I’d like to have a short period of overlap — a week or two weeks would be ideal — and I know that he’s (Howard) got some vacation time there as well, but I’m hoping to have a little bit of a transition period.”


Selectmen on Tuesday accepted Howard’s letter of resignation, dated June 29.

A notice on Skowhegan’s Facebook page, posted Thursday morning, says the town, whose population is about 8,600, is accepting resumes for a fire chief with strong leadership and interpersonal skills. The department has a deputy chief, 12 full-time and about 18 paid call firefighters, according to the notice.

Meanwhile, in other transition news related to Skowhegan, Road Commissioner Don Kinney tendered his letter of resignation, effective Aug. 1, at a June 14 selectmen’s meeting. Kinney’s letter says he is resigning because of unforeseen circumstances.

“This decision has been a difficult one, but with the recent family issues that have arisen and the continued struggles with other officials, I feel it is best for the town and myself to resign. I have absolutely enjoyed my position, the crew I have had the pleasure to work with and the feedback from the townspeople.”

Almand said Kinney was elected in June 2021, and someone will be appointed to serve the remaining 22 months of his three-year term. Kinney’s brother Daniel and his wife Sharon were seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident in May in Madison.

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