Goffstown fire chief retires

Attending Richard O’Brien’s Goffstown Fire Department retirement reception were, from left, Rick Howe, Kelly Howe, wife Shelia O’Brien, Chief Richard O’Brien, and sons Patrick O’Brien and Connor O’Brien.

GOFFSTOWN — Amid the sound of bagpipes, radio scanner static and fire sirens, 40-year emergency services veteran Richard O’Brien signed off for the last time as the Chief of the Goffstown Fire Department, ending his 11½-year tenure as the town’s top firefighter.

Marking his last day in the Granite State before he and his wife Shelia fulfilled their long-held dream of relocating to the couple’s home in Florida, O’Brien was sent off with a retirement reception in his honor at the town’s Church Street Village Fire Station.

The reception was attended by family and friends, as well as fellow town government employees, fire chiefs from Nashua to New Boston and state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, who presented O’Brien with a proclamation honoring his service to the town.

The festivities were capped off with a ceremony where O’Brien signed off over the radio for the last time with his son Connor O’Brien, a Portsmouth firefighter who previously worked for the Goffstown Fire Department.

“Chief O’Brien signing off for the final time after serving the town of Goffstown for eleven and a half years as chief,” said O’Brien over the radio. “Thank you for everything.”

“Attention all Goffstown Fire Rescue Personnel,” replied Connor O’Brien. “Fire Chief Richard O’Brien is signing off for the last time as fire chief. Chief O’Brien had dedicated 34 years to fire services. He has touched many lives over the 29 years of those as a paramedic. For the previous eleven and a half years, he has served the residents of Goffstown as Chief. Chief O’Brien has been a part of making key decisions that have helped shaped the fire services into what they are today. His contributions will not be forgotten.

“On behalf of the Goffstown Fire Department and the town of Goffstown, we thank you for all you have done. We wish you a happy, healthy retirement and the best of luck in your future endeavors. Mom, Patrick and I are very proud of you Dad.”

After the sign-off, O’Brien hopped into the department’s Engine 1 truck and rode away from the station and out of the village to the sound of wailing sirens and bagpipes played by Dave MacDonald, the brother of New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald.

Dan MacDonald, who has been a close friend and colleague of O’Brien’s for several years, applauded O’Brien’s leadership and organizational skills and recognized his Goffstown colleague for the work he’s done to build a strong cooperative relationship of emergency services in Goffstown and New Boston.

“Any major calls we had, he was already on his way to assist us in any way he could with anything we needed done,” said Dan MacDonald of O’Brien. “He would often help us with command.

“At several of our major fires he was there first, so he was able o get things going in the right direction until we were able to arrive.”

While the town searches for a permanent replacement for O’Brien, former Goffstown Fire Captain Steve Tower, who’s been in retirement for the last four years, will serve as the interim fire chief.

According to the posting at www.goffstown.com, the full-time fire chief oversees a department of 16 full-time employees and 38 on-call and part-time members with a Fire/EMS budget of $2.82 million. The department receives an average of 2,450 calls for service annually.

The town of Goffstown offers a salary range of $78,603 to $113,818, depending on qualifications.

The deadline to apply is March 30.