Franklin Countys First News

Thank you from the family of Capt. Michael Bell

Our family is rather private, so it's been challenging for us to navigate our father's passing because he lost his life in such a tragic, public way. He was a very humble man, so in keeping with his wishes, our family plans to mourn him privately. This is what our hearts are guiding us to do.

Capt. Michael Bell (Photo from the Town of Farmington's website)

He was not only our father, but also a public servant, a member of the close knit community of Farmington and part of a larger brotherhood of firefighters and first responders. While we’ve chosen to mourn privately, we also recognize the need for others to honor him, and the other victims, to begin healing from the tragedy that has occurred. With our full support, the Farmington Fire Department in coordination with the Maine State Police Honor Guard and I.M.A.C teams, the Fire Chiefs L.A.S.T response team will be organizing a public tribute event at some point in the future, once all of the injured have returned home and are able to participate.

The fire service has been a huge part of our father’s life for the past 35 years. He loved being a firefighter and it provides a bit of solace knowing that he died doing something that was so important to him. He was our hero, not because of how he died, but because of the way he lived his life every day.

We would like to express our gratitude for what we witnessed on Tuesday during our long drive to bring our dad back to Farmington from the State Medical Examiner’s office in Augusta. We were amazed at the public outpouring of support and were comforted by what we saw, from the Honor Guard that watched over him day and night, the Maine State Police, in particular Trooper Bob Burke who handled our father’s transfer with such dignity and sensitivity, the many firefighters and police officers who escorted us back home, the K9 officers perched on a cliff overlooking the motorcade, the solo bagpiper in Belgrade Lakes, and the woman mounted on her horse carrying an American flag as we passed the Farmington fairgrounds.

He was welcomed home by aerial ladders with a hanging American flag and countless emergency services personnel who saluted him upon his return and offered their heartfelt condolences. We were so moved by the people lining the streets in salute, with hands held over hearts, holding flags and handmade signs thanking our dad for his service. To all of you who participated in Tuesday’s procession, please know that we SAW you as we passed by and we FELT your honor for him and your love.

A special thank you to our cousin TJ Bell. His own father, Chief Terry Bell, was critically injured in Monday’s tragic event, yet TJ selflessly left his parents to escort our father’s body back home on Tuesday. TJ, we hope you know that we are so proud of the way you represented the Bell family.

We would also like to thank the many individuals who helped coordinate the procession, including Police Chief Jack Peck, Sheriff Scott Nichols, Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis, Deputy EMA Manager Amanda Simoneau, NorthStar EMS Director Mike Senecal, County Communications Director CL Folsom, Firefighter Stephan Bunker, acting Fire Chief Timothy Hardy, and Chaplain Stan Wheeler. We are especially touched that given how incredibly busy Tim, Steve and Stan have been in the wake of this incident, they’ve made themselves available to us and have taken time to look after our needs. Their protection, counsel and dedication to us have been unwavering.

Thank you to Rhonda Wiles-Rosell at the Wiles Remembrance Center for guiding us through this difficult time. We also thank JP Fortier for capturing such wonderful images of our dad and producing such a touching video tribute to him, and the State Police I.M.A.C. for creating the Farmington Fire Department website. We also thank the many employees at the Town of Farmington offices, and the highway crew who have supported the community throughout this ordeal.

Thank you to the Farmington Fire Dept., Farmington Police Dept., Franklin County 911 Dispatchers and to first responders everywhere for putting the needs of others before your own each and every day. Fire departments from across Maine have stepped in to assist the Farmington Fire Dept. and families of victims in their time of need. We are also grateful for the heroic civilians who assisted at the scene. Thank you ALL for working tirelessly during your time of pain to make sure the needs of others are being met.

We are very grateful for the greater Farmington community. Many local businesses and individuals have provided endless donations of food & water and money to lend their support. We may not always know who is behind the scenes, but please know your acts of kindness to our family, the fire department and to those effected are so truly appreciated.

Lastly we want to thank family, friends and acquaintances who were not with us this week, but will be with us in the days ahead as we try to move on. We appreciate the kind phone calls, messages and heartfelt gestures of support. We are in awe of his brotherhood of firefighters from afar and many others who did not know him personally, yet are paying tribute to him by sharing touching photos with us, changing your profile pictures to a shrouded badge or honoring his memory at your events. Please know that these sentiments are not unnoticed, they are wrapping us with a virtual hug that is very much appreciated.

On behalf of our mother Diana Bell, and our entire family, we want to offer our love and support to the Firefighters, L.E.A.P. maintenance supervisor and families of all those who were injured or displaced on Monday. Many of these people are our family and friends. Please pray for them all. Their road to physical and emotional recovery will be long and they need our support.

If anyone wishes to lend financial support, please consider making a donation to:

Farmington Fireman’s Benevolent Fund
In Memory of Captain Michael Bell
153 Farmington Falls Rd
Farmington, ME 04938

or scan the QR code below with your smartphone camera or QR scanner

Michelle Fish, Danielle Flannery & Sara Bell
(daughters of fallen firefighter Capt. Michael Bell)

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35 Responses »

  1. Michelle, Danielle, and Sara -

    Thank you for sharing these beautifully crafted words with us. You've given the #FarmingtonStrong community a huge gift.

    With heartfelt condolences,

    Heather Ahern Huish, wife of David Huish, mother of Zoe and Gretchen Huish

  2. Diana and daughters, what a beautiful letter to our community. We are so sorry for your enormous loss. Our thoughts have been with you daily. Love, Becky and Kurt Widen

  3. God Bless you all. Prayers for you all.

  4. We are so very sorry for the heartbreak you are going through, May God Bless all of you

  5. Thank you for sharing these heartful sentiments. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  6. Our heartfelt condolences to your family and friends, we didn’t know your Father, yet in some way the pictures and this eloquent letter certainly feels like we did, we respect your privacy. Our prayers for your road ahead will be with you all

    Thank you sharing your Dad, he will always be Our Hero

  7. I am so proud of our community and how "we" have been wrapped in love and we have and are coming together for those who have lost in so msny conquers all♡♡♡

  8. This is such a beautiful description of your father. I have known your dad and mom since i joined the fire service in Livermore falls 30 some years ago. Many good times were had with them over the years. All who knew your dad knew what kind of man he was. They don't make them like Mike very often but, when they do it stands out. Your dad stood out as a member of his fire department, as a member of his community, as a mentor to the younger generation who want to be like him but, most of all, he stood out as a member of the human race. Although i haven't seen him much since i retired from the fire service, i will miss him greatly. My heart hurts for all of you.
    With all my love and respect,
    Jim leclerc

  9. Heroes never die...God be with each of you

  10. Very touching. Makes my eyes water reading it. I know Michael wouldn't have remembered me any more than I remember him but I am sure we attended a training session together more than just a few years ago. I volunteered on the Phillips Fire Department as a driver of their Squad and while I was there they had a huge training session in Waterville that I attended as did the Farmington Fire Department. I wish I could say I met him and remember him well, but I can't. I can say I met men just like him, men who were willing to put their lives on the line to save the lives of others. Diana, Michelle, Danielle and are in the thoughts and prayers of thousands upon thousands of Mainers and beyond. God bless you all in this most tragic of times.

  11. Beautifully written. Greatly appreciated. 🌻

  12. My sincere condolences go out to you and your loved ones at this devatating time.
    I grew up in a fire fighter home. My Dad was a fireman for over 60
    years, 42 yrs. as our town Chief. I know full well the dedication
    And love and brotherhood your courageous dad was a part of,
    and I honor him and his service to his coomunity. My heartfelt thanks to
    You and your family for sharing him❤

  13. I have no words. I have been humbled by his sacrifice. And for the sacrifice of all the injured. My thoughts and prayers for the family and all injured in this terrible tragedy. Blessings to his family

  14. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. The entire town is behind you. Know that whatever your decisions are, you are supported. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.

  15. We do not know you or your family and did not know your Dad. We do spend time with our daughter who is a professor at UMF, and her family. This tragedy has affected us as well as many who do not know you. Your eloquent article in the Daily Bulldog has touched the hearts of us all. God Bless you.

  16. Beautifully written, God bless you all.

  17. Beautiful.
    Praying God's strength and comfort for you all.
    May God bless you

  18. This is a beautiful statement of gratitude and tribute. Thank you for it, it is so very touching. My heart goes out to your entire family for your loss. Peace and love to you all!

  19. As A Retired Firefighter/Paramedic; I honor your Father's life and his craft. I wish to exteed my humble praise and sorrow to you and your family as your take time to honor your Father in private with your family and very close friends. Thank you for sharing your greatful words and love in this time of pain and sorrow; my tears flowed as I read them, remembering the passing of my parents and brothers and sisters of the thin red line loss over the years of service served. May God Bless you and your family through this time of healing. My thoughts will be with you and your family.

  20. I was a Firefighter with Mike and he did this work for the people he loved NOT for recognition! He loved helping the people of Farmington. His father and brother were there beside him in the early years and now his father helped him beyond! He was a good man and father! RIP Mike Bell!!!

  21. The people of Farmington are with you.

  22. My heart felt condolences to your family. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

  23. The sacrifice a public servant makes to his or her community for their safety and well being is selfless. Whether you are a firefighter, law enforcement, medical responder, or public works, without these people, it would be chaotic I believe. Special thanks to you all. My sincere condolences to the family of Captain Bell, and my thoughts and prayers reaching out to all who have been physically and emotionally effected by this. Thank you to all the wonderful people who appreciate us. Chief Corey Hutchinson- Weld Fire.

  24. Dear Diana, Michelle, Danielle and Sara, and more,
    Your tender detail and astounding inclusivity as you write this thoughtful letter of gratitude to us who mourn Capt. Bell make us weep and feel so much closer to you. It is we who thank you, who honor your beloved Capt. Bell, and all first responders who daily keep us safe at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. May your pain significantly lessen as you continue to feel our warm embrace in appreciation of that sacrifice. My deepest condolences to each of you.

  25. Thank you for these wonderful words and sentiments. They will help our community recover and move forward, but always, we will remember.

  26. Thank you so much for this beautiful writing making us part of your family.

  27. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is much appreciated. Prayers and best wishes for you. May God be with you.

  28. How beautifully written. My thoughts and prayers are going out all of the Bell family for this horrific tragedy. May knowing that the thoughts and prayers of this Community, State, and Country are going your way help you heal for this event. Rip Mike!!

  29. Thank you. With lots of emotion, umf 2000 alum and Rangeley resident. Small town love sent feeling all the emotions with you. Peace

  30. To the awesome girls, of Mike Bell, you did a wonderful tribute to you father. He was a great person. I am so sorry to my cousin Diana, you are a very strong person. you have a stronger support system. God speed healing and comfort to you through all the prayers we are all saying for your family.

  31. Diana, Michelle, Dani, and Sara, I don't even know where to begin. You may or may not remember me, but Dani, you babysat my son many times through my association with the fire department for many years. Your family became my family. We shared lots of happy times together as a "fire department family". My heart goes out to each and everyone of you and wish I could be there to hug you all.

    "Grief never ends...but it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sing of weakness, not a lack of faith...It is the price of love."

  32. Very well-written sentiments of love, gratitude, and strength. This community and beyond grieves with you. We are all looking for ways to support your family, and the families of those injured or lost their homes. Please reach out when needed, and be assured you will find help. I am keeping you all in my prayers, and wish comfort and peace for the family that has given so much.

  33. Diana and the Bell Family,
    I was heartbroken to hear about Mike last Monday. Mike, and his Dad Jack, made sure the water was working every spring at the Pratt family camp on Clearwater, and they made sure it was secured every fall for winter for over 40 years. Mike was always there when we needed him.
    Mike was a very, very good person, and another example of how life can be unfair - he did not deserve his fate.
    Diana, a big virtual hug from me, our love, prayers, and best wishes to you and your family as you go forward from the Pratt family.

  34. My deepest sympathies on the loss of your father. From the stories my brothers have been sharing it is clear that he was an incredible man. His legacy will live on through all who he has touched.