New fire chief values community
Afterserving on the Stanstead Fire Department for almost ten years, Stanstead native Chris Goodsell was hired as the town’s new fire chief on January 1st, becoming the youngest fire chief in the Memphremagog MRC, at 29. “I grew up in this community and
I just wanted to help out,” said Mr. Goodsell when asked why he became a part-time firefighter, a demanding and sometimes dangerous option, almost a decade ago.
“In nine and a half years I’ve seen four fire chiefs here – that’s a high turnover rate. The last three fire chiefs were from out of town; that makes it difficult for them and difficult for us. I think I have a big leg up because I know the guys and I know the territory. That will help me,” commented Chris. “What will also help me in this job was my experience as a councilor for three years,” explained Mr. Goodsell who was elected in 2009 but recently stepped down to avoid any conflicts of interest and to focus more on his new job. “Now I understand what goes on and having done that job gives me a different perspective.”
It looks like the new fire chief’s first year on the job will be a busy one. “Soon we’ll be starting the First Responder Program. The object of that program is to help people when the ambulance is far away.” The department also has some fire prevention work to do which includes paying a visit to about nine hundred homes, in Stanstead, to verify equipment and make recommendations regarding smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. “The Magog Fire Department will check out the big plants and highrisk buildings on the territory,” he added.
At a time when parttime firefighters are having to dedicate more and more of their personal time to follow courses to meet the ever more stringent training requirements, the Stanstead department is fortunate to have four new recruits, bringing their total to twenty-eight. “We did a recruitment drive in January. Two of the new recruits are women; we now have three women in the department, one who has already taken her training. It’s important to take on only a few recruits at a time, to train them properly.” Mr. Goodsell seemed thankful that the department is a good size now, understanding some of the challenges for part-time firefighters. “Volunteer and part-time firefighters are very dedicated: they don’t get big pensions or benefits that city firefighters get. They’re here because they want to help make their community safer.”
“What I really like about our department is that we have twenty-eight people who all come from different backgrounds, which is challenging but fun. We have mechanics, truck drivers, stone cutters… and we have all different ages, from twenty to sixty. Everyone has different strong points. We’re a close-knit family here and we all enjoy what we do.”
Chris Goodsell, after serving on the fire department for almost ten years, became Stanstead’s new fire chief in January.