One of the best and worst jobs I get to do as a Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts Board of Directors member is to congratulate my fellow chiefs when they retire. 2015 is shaping up to be a busy year with four chiefs in the valley announcing retirements.
The four lucky ones are Chief Eric Madison of Longmeadow, Chief Steve Burkott of Chicopee, Chief Dennis Annear of Orange and Chief Bill Belden of Hatfield. As I think about how each one of them has helped me at one point or another in my career I also think about how they have helped the fire service all across the Commonwealth.
Chief Madison has not only brought about positive change in his department, but he has been instrumental in his involvement at the state level. He sat on the Board of Fire Preventions and Regulations, with Chief Burkott, and wrote our new fire prevention codes. While this may seem like a small task remember they had to take a homegrown fire code and meld it with an existing NFPA standard. Chief Madison is also a strong advocate for firefighter mental health and is working hard to ensure our firefighters get the help they need after the call.
Chief Burkott was a long time member of the Board of Directors for the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, the Board of Fire Prevention and Regulations and the District 4 Hazmat Steering Committee. He was a sounding board for me many times as well as guiding me in my early years on the board of directors.
Chief Annear has been so involved on so many levels it would be impossible to list. From the local level to the state level he was always willing to step up and lend his expertise to whatever committee needed him.
Chief Belden has done so much over the years that it would take me pages to list all of his behind the scenes work. He was a long serving member of the Hampshire County Fire Defense Association training committee, by-law committee and nominating committee. In his free time he managed to get some much-needed space for the fire department, upgraded the firefighting fleet and brought the ambulance service under the fire department.
These four chiefs walk away with well over 120 years of service! That speaks volumes for their commitment to the fire service. It also creates a void that the next round of leaders will need to step up and fill.
Let us all wish these four departing chiefs the best of luck and a long and happy retirement.
And, remember everyone goes home.
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Dave Mottor began his fire service journey in 1983 as a member of the Bondsville Fire Department. In 1984 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Fire Protection Specialist. After basic firefighting school he was assigned to the 21st Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Protection Flight in Anchorage Alaska where he remained until March of 1988. Dave returned to Western Mass and the Bondsville Fire Department until 1990 when he moved to Easthampton. He was hired as a civilian firefighter at Westover ARB in March of 1988 and remained there until March 1994. In June of 1990 he returned to the military as a member of the 439th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Protection Flight until retirement in 2009 at the rank of E-9, as the military fire chief at Westover. During his reserve career he had many deployments with the highlight being deploying to Kuwait following the terrorist attacks in 2001. Dave served as the Deputy Fire Chief overseeing 2 fire stations and 33 firefighters. Chief Mottor joined the Easthampton Fire Department in 1990 as a call firefighter and was appointed full time in 1994. He was appointed fire chief in 2009. Dave is a member of the Board of Directors for the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts as well as the current Vice President of the Hampshire County Fire Defense Association.