CARIBOU, Maine – For those who knew him, Daniel “Danny” Raymond was more than a captain for Caribou Fire & Ambulance.
He was a mentor, friend, community member and family man who consistently put others before himself.
Raymond, 57, died March 23 in a vehicle crash on Route 1 in Caribou. He had been a full-time firefighter and paramedic for 28 years. He served as captain for seven years prior to his death.
Fire department personnel from Caribou and around Maine will take part in a procession Sunday to honor Raymond. The group will start at Mockler Funeral Home in Caribou at 1:30 p.m., proceed past the fire station on High Street and end at Caribou High School, where Raymond’s funeral will be held.
Compassion is one of those things no one can learn in paramedic school, said firefighter and paramedic Adam Chartier, who worked on the same shift as Raymond.
The crew once helped a woman with developmental disabilities who had fallen and was hurt. Raymond recognized her from the Anah Shrine Circus, where he volunteered as a clown, and used that memory to comfort her.
“He said, ‘Hey, I know you. I’m Band-Aide the Clown,'” Chartier said. “He always had compassion for people in need and showed a lot of heart. He taught everyone to slow down on these calls and give something of themselves.”
Even at the fire station, Raymond lived up to his reputation as a clown.
He was the guy who got crew members’ kids hyped up on sugary snacks and cereal and sang the “SpongeBob Squarepants” theme song with them, his colleagues said. He imitated a dog barking and tricked kids into thinking the fire station’s dalmatian statue was real.
Raymond loved taking kids on tours of the fire station and showing off his favorite truck: the 100-year-old Old Engine One, which he helped restore recently. At last year’s Aroostook County Firefighters Muster in Caribou, Raymond drove Old Engine One onto Bennett Drive and pumped out water for kids to run through.
“He could not wait to get that truck pumping again,” said Caribou Fire & Ambulance Chief Scott Susi.
Susi knew Raymond for more than 20 years. He’s the reason Susi became a firefighter.
When Susi was 29, he told Raymond he planned to take paramedic courses. Susi was an operating room assistant at the local hospital at the time and had never thought of becoming a firefighter.
“I didn’t even know where the fire station was,” Susi said. “But we talked some more and he put me on the path.”
Thanks to Raymond, Susi also became “Patch the Clown” and joined his friend at many Anah Shrine events.
Making people smile was something Raymond took seriously. He led the Caribou Christmas Light Committee, ensuring the city’s festive holiday look. A fundraising campaign to replace Caribou’s decades-old Christmas lights has been launched in Raymond’s honor.
Raymond had just passed a test to become a licensed HAM radio operator before he died. He was a mechanics adviser for Caribou High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter and took part in antique tractor pulls at the Northern Maine Fair with his son, Tyler Raymond, now an on-call firefighter in Caribou.
In addition to Caribou Fire & Ambulance, Raymond worked as a facilities manager at Aroostook County Action Program, where he helped with many of the agency’s community projects.
No matter where Raymond was, he would drop everything to help someone, said his former captain Steve Sperry.
“If someone needed a trailer to haul something, he’d bring his. He helped shovel my roof many winters over the years,” Sperry said.
Being a firefighter and paramedic is always a tough job, with long and unpredictable hours and calls that can end in loss of life. For a while during the COVID pandemic, firefighter and paramedic Luke Brabant thought about leaving the profession. But then Raymond repeated the phrase he always told his colleagues on the bad days.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get through it, old boy,'” Brabant said. “He was always there to say, ‘See, we got through it.’ He brought back the light in the job that helped me want to stay.”