Bayside Fire Station Gets New Chief

rue_picture.jpgHoward Rue. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

After much deliberation, the Bayside Fire Station has found a replacement for the former fire chief, who left in December of 2014. Howard Rue relocated from a suburb in Chicago to lead the Bayside volunteer firefighters, and he moved onto the island last week. Rue says he’s been a paid on-call fireman for 45 years. When he first tried to get into the business of fire fighting in the late 60s, he says he faced some obstacles from the system.

“I’m 5’7, I’m about 5’6 after shrinking a little bit, but when I wanted to get in the first service, there was still a height requirement and coming from the east coast, I didn’t meet the height requirement, so I just stayed being a volunteer fireman and paid on-call fireman, and just enjoyed it and stayed in that.”

He says in addition to being a fireman, he’s also been an industry employee.

“My real job has been working for Koppers Chemical in several locations throughout the country and world where I was fire chief of a couple of their chemical plants. After I retired from coppers, I was a loss control inspector for an insurance company in Chicago, where I was for eleven years.”   
               
He says volunteer firefighters need to be especially flexible and perform all kinds of roles.

 “One call you may be a driver, the next call you may be sitting in the seat being the first in, so it’s a bit little more of a challenge, where people really have to train and pay attention to detail so that nobody gets hurts, which is my number one thing is safety and training. So, it’s just a little bit more spread out and [they] have to be a little bit more adaptable and know their jobs well.”

He says volunteers receive a small stipend, and he’d be happy to help them transition to paid positions elsewhere, but he says every firefighter has their own reason for getting involved.

“Wanting to help people, wanting to do EMS, wanting to do firefighting, wanting to do training. As I said, there’s many different facets that people can get into and I want to offer those. I can’t speak for any individual. I liked it when I started out when I was 18. I liked the machinery, I liked the equipment, I liked the trucks and the sirens and that kind of thing.”

Rue says he needs to make sure that the time volunteers put in is valuable for them.

“As the chief of Bayside, I’m competing with a lot of things, I’m competing for members with their families, their free time, their jobs, so I have to make Bayside a place where people want to come and want to join and be a part of, and that’s my biggest goal right now is to get people involved with Bayside.”

Rue says he hopes to make the station a proactive presence in the community and imagines hosting a pancake breakfast or fish-fry sometime in the future. He invites anyone who would like to visit him and the station to stop by for a cup of coffee and a tour.

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