I went to work at the firehouse this morning and followed my usual routine; putting my turnout gear and portable into Car 2, changing into uniform and then going to my office to check the day’s schedule, read my email, checked my mail slot and listen to my voicemails and return phone calls. When I checked my email, I found this:

“Good Morning Ron, Just perusing the Marlborough Fire website and saw your E-Mail and decided to send you a quick note. I have an interview with Stow Fire tonight and I’m beyond excited! I wanted to let you know because for the past 14 years, you have been a big part of my Fire Fighting inspiration and for once I actually have some light at the end of my tunnel. I don’t have much direction when it comes to public safety, so I take bits and pieces from the people I know. I guess you could say you’ve definitely been one of the biggest career role models I’ve had. The random questions of mine you have answered and things we’ve talked about in the past have been encouraging and enlightening to say the least. I’m grateful to know you Ron. I suppose it’s not every day you have one of your son’s friends extends his gratitude to you for being their inspiration, so here it is. Thank you for the job you do and the job you have done, for putting the safety of others first on a daily basis. Thank you for keeping our residents safe and thanks for doing it in style! My respect goes out to you and your brotherhood; I hope to soon be part of it. Thanks for the inspiration Ron. Matt”

Out of my son’s high school friends, Matt was the only one who expressed an interest in the fire service. He would ask me questions about calls I had been on, or about the job in general. On occasion, he would come with my son to the firehouse to visit with me. Matt’s journey is beginning; my son is well on the way to his fire service career, he dispatches for Weston Fire and is on a call/per diem firefighter with the Weston and Lincoln (MA) FDs and is hoping to be appointed to my FD in the very near future.

We in the fire service talk about mentoring the next generation of firefighters to give them a sense of the tradition, pride and ownership and to keep them motivated and safe. When I read this email, I realized that we have the opportunity to mentor the next generation even before they get on the job, sometimes we do it without knowing it.

Carpe opportunitas!



Ron Ayotte is a Deputy Chief of the Marlborough (MA) Fire Department and employee to the Support Services division of the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service/Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

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