BURRILLVILLE – He’s worked in fire departments for nearly 45 years, serving not just in the Burrillville villages, but in leadership roles for other districts across the state, as well as the firefighters’ union.
And now, Marcel Fontenault has officially assumed the title of “chief” for the Harrisville Fire Department.
The department held a swearing in ceremony on Monday, Oct. 16 that included participation and attendance by local and state officials, and colleagues both current – and from Fontenault’s past roles.
The Warwick Fire Department Honor Guard gave the presentation of colors, while Lt. Michael Dutilly, president of Harrisville’s IAFF Local 4910, gave introductory remarks. Warwick Fire Department Chief Thomas Rowan spoke before the crowd in attendance, while Brayton Round, chairman of the Harrisville Fire District Operating Committee, administered the Oath of Office. Rev. Robert Marciano, who serves as chaplain for both the police and fire departments in Warwick, as well as the Providence Fire Department, provided the invocation.
A Burrillville native and resident, Fontenault was chosen earlier this year to replace Chief Michael Gingell, who retired in September. The new chief has effectively led the district since Gingell’s last day on Friday, Sept. 1, but Monday officially marked the change in leadership, with a ceremony celebrating the transition.
Fontenault began his career in 1980 as a firefighter/EMT-C with the Nasonville Fire District, where he would eventually serve as chief. He joined the Smithfield Fire Department in 1987, and served both departments until he took a position with the Warwick Fire Department in 1992. While serving as a firefighter in Warwick, Fontenault earned a Letter of Recognition and a Citation for Meritorious Performance. He was a leader in the firefighters’ union for about nine years beginning in 2000.
Fontenault was serving as a rescue lieutenant during the Station Nightclub Fire in 2003, and his actions there were recognized with the Mark Wheeler Memorial Award. He worked his way up to captain in 2016, and was named assistant chief in Warwick in 2018, assuming the role of acting chief when then Chief James McLaughlin retired.
He was credited with holding down three unfilled positions in Warwick – chief, deputy chief and assistant chief – before his retirement in 2019.
He served as part time chief in Pascoag, and was named deputy chief in Harrisville in 2021. He holds a degree in fire science from Providence College and in fire administration from Columbia Southern University.
Fontenault marked the occasion surrounded by friends and family, including wife Barbara Fontenault and his daughters Amanda Bannon and Jessie Fontenault. Others in attendance included members of the Burrillville Town Council, firefighters from Warwick and Harrisville, Rep. David Place and Sen, Jessica de la Cruz.