HAMPSTEAD – The Hampstead Fire Department and community honored the department’s long-time Deputy Chief, Jim Gilmartin, who is retiring after 32 years of service to his town. He was treated to a dinner and roast sponsored by the Hampstead Firemen’s Association at the Brookstone Event Center in Derry on June 27.
Current Fire Chief Michael Carrier said, “Deputy Chief Jim Gilmartin has been with the Hampstead Fire Department for over 31 years. His leadership and operational management have helped the department over the last three decades. Many changes have taken place during this time, where the department was initially formed to provide fire suppression activities. Today, however, the department has evolved from fighting fires to many other areas of responsibilities such as EMS (emergency medical services), Rescue, Emergency Management, and Hazardous Materials.
“Jim has been an integral part of the department’s transformation and provided the necessary leadership to make these changes positive, while providing a caring and compassionate approach to the town and its citizens,” Carrier said.
“From a personal perspective, Jim has been very supportive of me as the town’s new fire chief, right from the start almost five years ago,” Carrier added. “He provided me with the history and traditions of the department and the town, which gives me great insights into decisions I need to make for the department and the town. And he also had no problem telling me that I was doing something wrong, which I completely respected and appreciated. But, in addition to his advice, Jim gave me his friendship…and that is something that I will cherish the rest of my life. I wish him and his family all the best with the next chapter of his life.”
Former Fire Chief Chip Hastings also commented on Gilmartin’s role in the department.
“Over the years Jim has given his fellow townspeople freely of his time, responding to emergency calls and keeping up with training,” Hastings said. “As life becomes more filled with one’s own commitments due to family and job, Jim managed to still respond. This is at the heart of a number of Fire Departments throughout the state to this day, thanks to Jim and other men and women like him. He was Hampstead’s representative to the HazMat (hazardous materials) Mutual Aid group for many years, a task which benefited the town and its residents.
“During my time as Chief he was supportive, which made the job easier and helped to shoulder the burden,” he concluded. Gilmartin recalled that when he joined the Hampstead Fire Department in the early ’80s, it was all volunteer. “About half way through my tenure it evolved to paid call and then to a combination of paid call and full time,” he said. “I started out as a fire fighter and then lieutenant, captain and finally deputy chief.” He was also secretary to the board of fire engineers, water officer, training officer and Hampstead’s representative to the HazMat district.
Looking ahead to life after the Hampstead Fire Department, Gilmartin added, “I am retiring because it is time. I plan to travel with my wife, Shirley, and enjoy my wonderful family.”
Asked about his most outstanding memory, he responded, “it is not just one but many, including the firemen’s association, which provided countless fund raisers, Christmas parades, etc. Next would be all the hours I spent with my comrades in training to ensure our skills were current with the ever evolving fire standards.
“I will truly miss all the members I have worked with in the past and present, the many members of the board of engineers of which I proudly served,” he concluded.