Captain Michael A. Bell was a 30-year veteran of Farmington Fire Rescue. On the fateful morning of September 16, 2019, he responded to a call and just minutes after arriving on scene, a devastating propane explosion occurred, taking his life.
Mike loved being a firefighter. He was a third-generation firefighter and was fortunate to have served alongside his father, Captain John “Jack” O. Bell and his brother, Chief Terry S. Bell, for many years. Mike began his firefighting career as a volunteer firefighter in Mexico, Maine. After moving back to his hometown of Farmington in 1989, he joined Farmington Fire Rescue and worked his way up through the ranks to captain.
Mike was a plumber by trade and had recently semi-retired from his plumbing business to spend more time with family. He enjoyed building things and home improvement projects, often receiving help from his family and firefighter family or assisting them with a project. Mike loved watching football (Go Patriots!) almost as much as he enjoyed watching his grandsons play basketball, soccer, flag football, and baseball. Mike loved to travel and treasured time spent with his wife, family, and friends on trips to St. Maarten, Canada, Disney World, and Rangeley. He took great pleasure in time spent outdoors, whether it be hiking, fishing, canoeing, visiting his ‘grand horses,’ or even mowing his lawn.
Mike took pride in helping people and was an active member of our close-knit community, serving on numerous planning boards and committees over the years. Mike was understated and unassuming in nature. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke you listened. He was well-respected and admired by those who knew him. You experienced his presence and were better for it in the end. Most importantly, you could always count on him, whether you were family, friend, or fellow firefighter.
Michael will be deeply missed by his wife, Diana; daughters, Michelle, Danielle, and Sara; sons-in-law, Michael and Shane; grandsons, Ryan, Garrett, Camden, and Brennan; siblings, Bonnie, John, Terry, and Ronnie; longtime family friend, Dale; and many other family members and friends. On the morning of September 16, as he walked out the door headed to his final call, Mike’s wife, Diana, said, “I love you. Be careful,” to which he replied, “Always.” His family and friends will always remember the sound of his voice, his piercing blue eyes, his folded-arm stance, the warmth of his hugs, and his quiet confidence that made those around him feel safe and protected. He was our hero, not because of how he died, but because of how he lived.