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Longest Consecutive Volunteer Fire Chief from Oldest Fire Department in the State of Vermont Retires After 30 Years of Service

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June 03, 2022 | VERMONT JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

NORTH BENNINGTON, VT - Just over the border from Hoosick Falls, NY is beautiful North Bennington, home of the oldest fire department in the state of Vermont that was established in 1834. The North Bennington Vol. Fire Department, which has about 35 active firefighters along with two engines and a brush truck, is located just outside of the main street area right next to a gorgeous waterfall.

The small department has been getting some big time recognition for the retirement of their longest consecutive volunteer fire chief in the state of Vermont. Now retired Fire Chief Edward Myers, Jr. of North Bennington started in the department in 1987 as a firefighter. Over the next few years, Edward would become a valuable member of the department and begin to quickly move up in the ranks. Within his third year of being an active member, Ed took the reins of the department and became an assistant chief. Ed’s success did not stop there; after two more consecutive years as Asst. Chief, Ed made the move to chief of the department in 1992.

When a new chief, or in this case a young chief, started in the department or departments around the area, the older fire chiefs would refer to the new young chiefs as “Baby Stroller Chiefs”. When Edward became chief of the department, he was nervous about all of the responsibility he was inheriting and all of the challenges that he would face down the road, but one thing Ed had was the assistance from the firefighters and chiefs in the surrounding areas throughout that were willing to pass down their knowledge and experience to assist Ed in becoming a better firefighter and a better leader. Ed had one trait that stood out the most, which was his ability to listen. Edward had an open door policy and that policy was for anyone. His door was always open, whether it was for something that happened at the firehouse, or for a firefighter that was having problems in their personal life. Ed would always assist them to the best of his ability and was always there to listen and offer advice.

Edward would take on a few major projects during his time in the chief's office. He helped the North Bennington FD start its junior firefighters program where firefighters could join as young as 13 years of age. Along the way, the program proved to be successful and helped numerous teenagers become firefighters in surrounding departments as well as the North Bennington FD. During his time as chief, Edward also helped start the ice water rescue team for the area. He continued to serve the department from 1992 to 2022, completing 30 consecutive years as fire chief of the North Bennington FD.

To Edward's surprise, his entire fire department as well as other departments put together a retirement dinner in his honor to celebrate the 30 years of service he gave to the small village of North Bennington. Edward’s family and friends were also there to celebrate. Several people made speeches at the event and spoke highly of Edward and his 30 years of dedicated service to North Bennington and surrounding areas. Those speakers included Bennington County Mutual Aide Association's Tim Burgess, Cam Grande of the Bennington PD, Representative of the Town of Bennington Stew Herd, and the president of Bennington College. Ed was presented with a plaque and a few other gifts during the event, one of which was a special clock given to him from his mother and father. The event was paid for by several grateful businesses in the area as well as a few other fire departments that contributed.

Ed spoke to the crowd at the end of the event, saying “Being there for 30 years, you go from being in the stroller to being in a walker. It’s not about being the chief, it’s about all of the great people right here and the people you meet along the way. That’s what we do it for, not for the glory, not for being the chief, we do it for the people. I want to thank you all for coming here today and thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin. It's all about team work. It was never 'I did it', it was 'we did it'. We got us here today, and thank you for being here."

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