|Adams Fire Chief To Step Down After Near 40 Years With Department|
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
03:00AM / Saturday, April 01, 2017
|Chief Paul Goyette plans to step down.|
ADAMS, Mass. — After almost 40 years fighting fires, Paul Goyette plans to step down as the chief of the Adams Volunteer Fire Department.
"I will not miss the 2:30 in the morning calls in February when it is 10 degrees out, but I will miss the excitement and comradery," Goyette, who has chosen not run for re-election in May, said. "It always was rewarding when you make that great save…and protect members of the community."
Goyette, who is expecting a second granddaughter and whose daughter is getting married in the fall, said he has decided it was time to move on to the next stage of his life and spend more time with his family.
Goyette, who also teaches at Hoosac Valley, said that he is also simply running out of steam.
"I am tired, and I have found it very difficult to work two jobs…it’s much too difficult to teach all day and then come here day after day…it’s time to go," he said. "I’ll go to a call at 2:30 in the morning stay up all night then have school in the morning…I will be 58 and I don’t bounce back like I used to."
Goyette started fighting fires in 1980 as an apprentice. When he went away to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania he served on the local volunteer squad.
When he returned home after graduating, he joined the department in 1983. After the retirement of former Chief Stephen Brown in 2011, Goyette was elected as his successor.
Goyette said what initially drew him to firefighting was the rush of the call.
"I have been around athletics all of my life and loved game time. You worked hard and practiced and when the calls came in it was game time," he said. "It’s Saturday afternoon and we are going to kick off and it’s the same feeling I would get when the pager went off. It’s game time."
Goyette said this passion and excitement fanned the flame that kept him directing the department for years.
"It became such an important part of my life. It was the excitement and the comradery with the guys," he said. "I was already in the department when I got married and the children came and it was still something that was a fire in my heart to keep going."
Goyette remembers many fires throughout his long career such as a string of fires in 1984 when an arsonist was running amok in town and the Berkshire Fine Spinning fire where firefighters doused a blaze in 17 below zero temperatures.
"That’s etched in my mind. I remember being covered in ice," Goyette said. "The ladder was so frozen we had to bring it back extended because we couldn’t collapse it."
Goyette said when he thinks back on all of the calls the engulfing fires that eradicated structures do not ring as clearly in his memory.
"The devastating fires that make the big headlines do not stick out in my mind as much…with the big ones all you can do is watch it burn and sit outside and throw water on it for hours," he said. "It’s an awful feeling."
He said the smaller fires where the department responded, followed protocol, and snuffed out the fire before it caused irretrievable damage are most vivid in his mind.
"I remember the ones where we got in quick, we hit it hard, there was little damage and everybody went home," he said. "It is rewarding to save lives and property and see homes saved, rebuilt and put back on the tax roll."
Goyette said a lot has changed since he first came on as chief. He said the sheer volume of calls has exponentially increased. Back in the day, there were 60 to 70 calls a year, now it is more like 300.
He said this is mostly because of automated detectors that sometimes go off mistakenly. Also, the department now backs up Adams Ambulance and just has more duties.
He said the equipment has also become far more sophisticated but much more expensive. He recalled purchasing a ladder truck for $360,000 years ago, the one expected to arrive this May costs almost $1 million.
Goyette said he feels confident handing over the department keys to a new chief and feels a lot of the fire prevention programming he has implemented in the schools and community will be continued.
Goyette added that upon his departure he hopes the community will continue to realize how much work goes into being a volunteer firefighter. He said many residents in town do not know the town has a volunteer department.
"There are people in the community that see the fire truck go out and they see an article and that’s it," Goyette said. "What they don’t see are the drills on Tuesday nights and all the hard work that happens behind the scenes."
Goyette said as he leaves he hopes more people join the department that has seen a decrease in membership. He said he thinks the next chief will do a good job and hopes the department will continue the great work they do.
"My advice is to continue to train hard and I know they will. You want to train like you are going to fight and teams that do not train will not win," he said. "I hope they will maintain the professionalism that they have had for 140 years and I am sure they will."