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Beland stepping down as Gilford Fire Chief

Out-going Gilford Fire Chief John Beland next to Rescue One at the Fire Station. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
August 24, 2011
After about 30 years of service, Gilford Fire Chief John Beland announced his retirement Tuesday, Aug. 16 at the Board of Fire Engineers meeting, but he will still have a part in emergency services.

Beland will leave the Gilford Fire Department in September and join the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association Communication Center (LRMFAA) as Deputy Coordinator on Monday, Oct. 3.

"I had no intention of retiring this early, but I didn't want to let this opportunity go by," said Beland. "I'm still going to have a hand in emergency services; just a different perspective."

After many years in a field that is equally physically and mentally demanding, Beland figured he was nearing the end of his service.

"The things you see on a daily basis pile up on you," he said, explaining the stresses of working in emergency situations.

To Beland, the reward of responding to emergencies and saving lives far outweighed the personal toll.

"You get called into people's lives. Sometimes, it's very tragic and very sad; but you're a part of that, and that is quite an honor and responsibility," he said.

Beland and his crew have also been a part of many great moments, such as births and lives saved from the brink of death from cardiac arrest.

Though Beland will have a change of scenery in his day-to-day business, he will still remain active in the Gilford community through the Rotary Club and St. Baldrick's foundation fundraisers. He wants to remain with the community that has supported him and the fire department for years.

"It's a great community in terms of support," said Beland. "It makes what we do easier."

One aspect of the new job that really drew Beland to resign his roll of Fire Chief was the opportunity to work in the training and education field of mutual fire aid once again.

According to Beland, some of his proudest moments have been running into some of his former students.

"To run into someone you taught and know you had such an impact on their career; helped motivate and form their career," he said, were some of his fondest memories in his own career.

"They used to be 18 or 17 [years-old]; now, they are in their 30's and giving back to fire services," he added.

According to Beland, the LRMFAA assists in major emergencies, two alarms or greater, by assisting with communication and coordination between 38 agencies in central New Hampshire. Beland recalled working with the LRMFAA during the Alton Bay Easter Sunday fires, a 14-alarm fire that destroyed 45 summer cottages, and over the season fighting forest fires. Beland said the organization helped tremendously aiding emergency workers, assisting with the water supply and fulfilling duties that would otherwise occupy firefighters.

One benefit Beland thought particularity helpful was the use of the organization's communication trailer and mobile command center. This gave members of the Gilford Fire Department a place to work without returning to the station.

Looking back on his career, Beland had nothing but positive feelings towards his years of service to the community.

"I'm so honored and blessed. I never felt I had to get up and go to work; not many people can say that about their profession," said Beland. "There is a ton I'm going to miss. The people I work with are a phenomenal group that had achieved many goals set over the years. I'm going to miss interacting with them on a daily basis."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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