Chief Jon E. Barton
A Fireman's Prayer
Chief Jon E. Barton, was a 47 year veteran of Gray Fire Rescue. He taught us hard work, determination, dedication and brotherhood. Gone but not forgotten. Rest in peace Chief and watch out over us all as we continue your legacy.
The following was taken from the Capsule Biographies of Life Members, Gray Fire Rescue 125th Anniversary yearbook:
Chief Jon Barton joined Gray Fire Rescue in 1959 at the age of 23. Like a number of members, his father was also a Firefighter, and he remembers his father's efforts during the great Maine Forest Fires of 1947. Within a few years Chief Barton was promoted to an officer position and continued up the ranks being named Chief of Department in 1987.
Anyone who knew the Chief is impressed by his total dedication to his calling, both during the 20 hours that’s he was paid to spend on the job, and the many other hours he spend a week unpaid. Asked if there is one place or person that he would like to visit if he could, he thinks a while: truth is he would just as soon stay home with his family. "I don't know what relaxing is." (Penny Hilton, The Monument News 4/01)
Chief Barton was past president of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association, the Maine Fire Chiefs Association, the Coastal Mutual Aid Chiefs Association as well as the New England Association of Fire Chiefs. Typically, even when asked, the chief is humble about the awards and honors he has received throughout his tenure.
Big changes in Gray Fire Rescue that he has seen would include the establishment of full-time weekend coverage and dispatching during the early days, the hiring of full-time personnel beginning in 1987, the combining of the Fire and Rescue Departments in 1993, and the establishment of additional paid per-diem coverage in recent years.
Chief Barton frequently remarked on the high quality of training and performance of the members, despite their limited numbers. He believed that the superior quality of its members is apparent during trainings, mutual aid responses, and classroom experiences.
Chief Barton was proud of the ever-increasing services protecting life and property that the Department provides to the townspeople and to the surrounding communities. In the most recent fiscal year, the department handled over 900 emergency calls for service, almost 50% higher than just ten years ago.
When asked to predict what will change and what will stay the same in the future, Chief Barton agrees that this is the magic question. He has said for many years that the position of Chief is, in truth a full-time job rather than part-time. He believed that the department will continue to extend its help in wider mutual aid responses tot he region. Discussions are under way to build and share fire-rescue stations jointly with neighboring towns based on geographical locations of calls rather than locations of town lines. At the same time, Chief Barton believed that regional cooperation should be voluntary and cooperative, and not be forced upon towns by political considerations.