Though Chesterfield Fire & EMS predates 1950, the first salaried Fire Marshal was hired in 1966. In 1969, the first salaried firefighters were hired and it was at this time that Robert L. Eanes went from being the Fire Marshal to Chief of the Department. Chief Eanes would lead the organization until 1996. Chesterfield would go from being an all-volunteer department to a combination department. Chesterfield Fire Dept. grew to be a great organization, with great firefighters and state of the art equipment. I appreciate Chief Eanes, since he was the one that gave me a job in 1985.
Serving as Chief Eanes assistant chief, Chief Wesley Dolezal became Unit 1 when Chief Eanes retired. Chief Dolezal did not stay long after Chief Eanes left. The organization continued to move forward under Chief Dolezal’s leadership.
After Chief Dolezal retired, Chief Steve Elswick took the helm of our organization. Chief Elswick would be the first person in Chesterfield to start out as a firefighter, promoting through the ranks to Fire Chief. I, too, appreciate Chief Elswick, who hired me as a part-time dispatcher, when I returned from the Coast Guard. I also served under Chief Elswick, when he was the Senior Battalion Chief on C-shift. A few years after Chief Elswick retired, he was elected as the Matoaca District’s Board of Supervisor member.
After Chief Elswick retired, Chief Paul Mauger took the reigns. Chief Mauger had served as a volunteer with the Enon Volunteer Fire Department, before being hired as a firefighter. Chief Mauger also promoted up the ladder, to the position of Fire Chief. Chief Mauger would be the last chief that would be promoted from within the ranks of Chesterfield Fire & EMS.
When Chief Mauger retired, county leadership began to talk with our department about the possibility of hiring a chief from outside of the organization. This would be a paradigm shift for our organization. There were some that had positioned themselves for the role of fire chief, from inside the organization, but it would not take long to know that the next chief was going to come from somewhere else in the country.
Chief Loy Senter had gone from firefighter to Fire Chief in the City of Norfolk. At his retirement from Norfolk, he was chosen to be the first leader of Chesterfield Fire & EMS, who had not come from our ranks. Chief Senter brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to our organization and has truly led with distinction.
We had actually tested the waters of hiring a chief officer, many years before this. It was either the late eighties or early nineties that Chesterfield Fire Department hired Chief Dennis Rubin to be the Chief of Training. Chief Rubin was an educator and an author and we always knew that his time with us would be short. I do not know where Chief Rubin is today, but he has served as the Chief of Department in Atlanta Georgia and Washington D.C. I know that he has served as the fire chief in other departments, as well as the county administrator in some locations. Chief Rubin always said that he would be a member of the United States Fire Administration one day.
I have been privileged to know and serve with each of these men. They each impacted my life in different ways. I could write a series of articles, telling about firefighters, company officers and chief officers that made the fire service the greatest career that a person could ever be a part of. It is interesting to recall the journey that our organization has taken to get where it is today.
This Sunday, March 13, clocks will spring forward one hour. Remember to change your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clock.