Colby Senior Spencer Martin awarded Firefighter of the Year

Spencer Martin has had an idea of what he wanted to be ever since he was a kid. “I knew I wanted to become a firefighter when my neighbor’s house burned down when I was a kid. I always knew I wanted to become a volunteer but I never knew how to,” he explained to the Echo in an interview. His passion carried over to adulthood, and this year Martin,  who is an Economics and Math double major and Chemistry minor, received the Firefighter of the Year award from Waterville Fire-Rescue.

After working as an EMT on campus, Martin says he decided to apply to become a firefighter partly on impulse. He says he knew that he wanted to work somewhere off campus, so he had been researching several different opportunities. “One day I was driving past the fire station after CCAK and I said, ‘if I don’t do it now I’m never going to do it,’ so I just walked in and said I’d like to apply– I’m an EMT and I’d like to become a firefighter,” Martin said. After going through a lengthy application process, Martin was accepted as a volunteer firefighter. Since then, his schedule has changed drastically. Unlike on-campus EMTs, Martin never has a break from being on-call. He says he keeps a pager with him at all times, and if the department needs additional help with a call it will send a message to all the volunteer firefighters— the only time he turns the pager off is when he’s in class. He said he responds to an average of one call per day. “But that doesn’t mean that I go on one call per day,” he said. “There will be days where I go on two or three calls in a day and then there will be times where there isn’t a call for two or three days.” Though the calls may be intermittent, Martin says he knows that there will be a new experience with each one. “When my pager goes off, I know I’m going to be going on an adventure one way or another. I know I’m going to go help someone’s day,” said Martin.

Martin has worked to integrate his firefighting life into his life at Colby, which he said hasn’t exactly been easy. As a Community Advisor he chose to live in Williams (or, as he calls it, “Chilliams”) in part because it’s the closest dorm to the Hillside parking lot, which allows him quick access to his car if he gets a call. “I drive my car around probably a little bit more than I should, from an environmental point of view. But I really try to stay close to my car, because that’s where my gear is and that’s how I get to the calls,” Martin said. He also avoids studying in places far away from his car— for instance, in Davis when his car is in Hillside.

For Martin, one of the most rewarding things about being a firefighter is the connection he makes between Waterville and Colby. Additionally, he says working at the fire department has allowed him to get to know the two other Colby firefighters, Will Levesque ’18 and Dylan Therriault ’19, as well as firefighters from the greater Waterville area.

Martin said he was in the fire station’s banquet hall when he learned he had won the Firefighter of the Year award. “This guy, a full-time career firefighter, just elbowed me and said, ‘Congrats, buddy’– this was maybe 20 seconds before the chief (David LaFountain) said my name, so I was very surprised.”  Martin said he was grateful for the recognition the station had given him. “The award is an absolute honor, I could never have expected something like this. It’s incredible. They know that I’m graduating, they know that I’m leaving, and still to give me this huge honor… It just makes me smile.”

Levesque said he loves working alongside Martin, and that Martin deserves the recognition. “I think the award is really a reflection of Spencer’s hard work and great attitude. The guy makes it to nearly every call and is always listening to learn something new,” Levesque stated.

Martin’s name will now go on a plaque that hangs in the station, amongst the names of other firefighters who have won the award in the past.

Martin has certainly taken advantage of the resources offered around Waterville, but every good experience must come to an end. After Martin graduates in May, he’s unsure whether his area will be able to offer him the same opportunities he has found in Waterville. “If I could keep doing what I’m doing now indefinitely, I would,” he said. “I don’t have too much of an interest in becoming a full time firefighter because I like to keep my hobbies and my work separate. This is very much a hobby for me– it’s something I enjoy doing, I enjoy the experience, I enjoy the camaraderie, I enjoy the knowledge, but I wouldn’t do it full time for a living. If I could keep volunteering indefinitely, I would definitely do it.”

Though Martin’s time with Waterville Fire-Rescue is coming to a close, he suggested that any underclassmen who are interested in volunteering outside of Colby should look into becoming a firefighter. He said it wouldn’t be easy, and it would be a time commitment, but as Martin’s experience shows, it is a rewarding and important role that is available for dedicated students like him to fill.

  • Alum

    Bravo – from a former CER member and longtime volunteer firefighter!