Mentoring, Part 2 – Dep. Chief Ron Ayotte


Take the time to share your experiences and words of wisdom with others.


In August of 2012, I wrote an article for Backstep Firefighter about mentoring, inspired by an email from one of my son’s high school friends who wanted to pursue a fire service career.

Yesterday afternoon, I received another email from his friend Matt…

“Hi Ron, I wanted to take a minute and write you a quick note.

I was thinking about that email I sent you a couple years ago just before my interview with the Stow fire department. I have an interview with Hudson fire next week and it made me think about how far I have come in such a short period of time.

2 years ago I was accepted to Stow’s in-house training program.  After 3 months of training I was promoted from Apprentice to Squad firefighter.  After I was promoted to Squad I started going down to the station on my own time. I put in hours upon hours of training and gained a good amount of perspective from going on calls.  As time allowed, I managed to get accepted into the 48th Call/Volunteer program through the MFA (as you already knew).  After almost 6 months of dedication to the course, I graduated with FF I/II and HAZMAT OLR certs.  An incredible experience and feeling…

Just as academy ended our final season of Driver training and Pump & Hydraulics class was under way in Stow.  After a couple months I was signed off as a Driver operator and Per Diem Firefighter.  As of last month I was given the honor of working my first paid shift! What an experience.  It may not be full time yet but it’s the most rewarding adventure I have pursued to date (with the exception of having my son of course).

With that said, I can only imagine the adventures and knowledge I will obtain in the next two years and the years following that!  With a little luck and my training behind me, hopefully I will procure the HFD call position and begin another chapter to my adventure.  I may have got a late start at 28 years old but I’ll never quit on it!

Thanks again for the years of inspiration.”


I wrote him back…


I was 28 when I got on “the job”… that means you can retire at age 60 with 32 years on!

Keep one thing in mind… as much as you love the job and the brotherhood; remember that your family comes first.
Firefighters have 2 families, the one they live with, the one they work with, and at times both are intertwined, and at times they have to be separated… There will be times where it seems you are always working, and your wife and child will want to put you face on a billboard saying “have you seen me?”

If you are working a per diem shift or an overtime trick, call them and let them know that you are doing it for them. There are times you have to just say no to the FD; remember that there will be other opportunities to work OT. This was lesson that I learned the hard way, at one point in my career I found myself at the intersection of Separation Street and Divorce Drive. I had just gotten promoted to Lieutenant and became too absorbed with the job by taking the firehouse home with me at the end of a shift at the expense of my home life.

If you would like, use me for a reference for Hudson.

Deputy Chief Ron Ayotte, Marlborough Fire.”

In my email to Matt, I shared some personal information that only a few people knew. I took advantage of the City’s Employee Assistance Program and talked to a counselor to straighten out my situation. The advice she gave me helped tremendously. My wife and I just celebrated our 35th anniversary, my son got hired on the Department in March 2013 and my grandson is either going follow Dad and Grampy into the fire service or become a pilot (he is fascinated by fire trucks and airplanes).

I don’t want Matt (or anyone else for that matter) to sacrifice their family life for the sake of the job. the lesson is simple…the job is there, and will always be there… there are times you have to step back from it.

Mentoring doesn’t stop when someone gets the job, and sometimes it goes beyond the firehouse and firehouse life.

Take the time to share your experiences and words of wisdom with others.


Photo courtesy of Lloyd Mitchell Photography, used with permission.


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AyotteProfilePhotoRon Ayotte Ron Ayotte is one of four Deputy Fire Chiefs with the Marlborough Fire Department, Marlborough, Massachusetts. Ron began his career with the MFD in November of 1981, was promoted to Lieutenant in November of 1988, Promoted to Captain in August of 2000 and was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2006. Ron’s responsibilities at the MFD include incident command, communications, plans review, inspections and training. Ron also works per diem in the Support Services division at the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services/Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, working support for various Academy programs, including Recruit training, Call/Volunteer training, Certification and LNG-LPG firefighting training. Ron’s writings and musings can be seen at Chief Concerns.
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