Hemford fire chief retires after 38 years

by Michael Lee

  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Gordon Hunter has stepped down as fire chief of the Hemford and District Fire Department after 38 years in the role.</p>

Gordon Hunter always felt he should be doing something for his community.

It's one of the reasons he came on as fire chief of the Hemford and District Fire Department.

But at age 80, the former air force mechanic and foreman at Michelin Tire has decided to step down from his long-time job after 38 years in the role.

"I think you just get to a point where you have to look at some new blood," he said.

Hunter became the Hemford and District Fire Department's fourth fire chief in 1979.

He said there weren't too many of the older members who wanted to take it on.

"It's just one of these things, you just kind of seem to fall into it and then one thing leads to another, to another, to another," he said.

"It just seemed to be the normal evolution."

The department built its current hall during Hunter's time as fire chief and over the years, the building played host to a number of dances, bouts of tug-of-war, judo matches and arm wrestling competitions.

"When you live in a small community, you're only going to have whatever you want to put into it and that's the way we thought."

Although he said he didn't have many "fantastic" stories to tell, he laughed as he recalled having to put out chimney fires using a maple pole with a pointed end as the "old fellas" sat around.

The department receives about 40 to 50 calls a year, said Hunter, including a few car accidents, but luckily there haven't been too many deaths.

He said the department probably responds to more medical calls than fires nowadays, but as he put it: "It's just the way things are."

Hunter's wife, three sons and two grandsons have all gone through the department under various roles. His son Collin will take over as the new fire chief.

Hunter has decided to stay on with the department and after so many years, he believes it's the camaraderie that has kept it all together.

"It becomes almost like a family within itself."

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