Bayport fire chief heads back to the line: Bell trades administrative duty for job as firefighter

BAYPORT — After 22 years of service, eight of which were as Bayport Fire Chief, Mike Bell steps back to the first job that got him involved with the department as firefighter.

Bell has already become “just a firefighter” again in Bayport’s paid, on-call volunteer fire department, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

“It’s a big time requirement being fire chief,” Bell said. “It’s really a full-time job and I’ve been trying to do things after work and before work but with little kids at home it’s hard to do.”

The Washington County Board honored Bell earlier this week for his outstanding service and accomplishments at the department. The greatest of those, Bell believes, is keeping a high caliber of service and the outreach he did in the community about fire prevention.

“Maintaining the high level of service I did, and managing all the PR-related things that talked about fire prevention, were great,” Bell said. “It’s an aspect of the job that I really hold in high regard: teaching people about fire prevention and trying to keep the fire code going to prevent future fires as we get new buildings and new equipment coming in.”

Bell will continue in his role as fire code official. He will miss a few things, though as he goes forward. They include interacting with the city officials and seeing the fruits of his labor as fire chief.

“As chief you deal with all the other members of the fire department. We have a good group of people and as fire chief you get to see them work together so well, and keeping the department running good was always great.” Bell said.

Going forward, Bell plans to continue helping out wherever he can at the department, and is planning to stay on the fire department as long as he is physically able. He’s also looking forward to fighting fires again.

“As the chief you’re in charge of doing all the things to make sure that everything goes smoothly,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the hands-on fire fighting stuff again and I’ve already gotten to do a little of that.”