Remembering a Brother

 

Dick was a character and a hell of a nice guy.

 

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On September 5, 2015 I found out that one of my mentors had recently entered hospice; a few hours later I found out that he had passed away.

Dick Tremblay was one hell of a nice guy and quite a character. When I was in my rookie year on the Marlborough Fire Department, I was assigned to Group 3. The Captain of the group, Everett Russell, had me going out driver training with the all of the companies at different times during the day and night tours to get used to the different idiosyncrasies of each rig as well as learning the streets and the traffic that could be encountered at different times of the day.

One August evening, Captain Russell told Dick to take me out for driver training after 7:00 PM. We were working 10’s and 14’s at the time (2 ten hour days, two 14 hour nights with four days off in between). There was an EMT refresher class going on in the classroom at Station 2 that night, most of the on duty crew at HQ was in the class. I was in an EMT class to get my certification, and Dick wasn’t an EMT. It would just be the two of us on Engine 6 that night while the class was going on; the other firefighters would be on the other rigs and would meet us if we had to go out to a call.

There were a few firefighters from other communities in the refresher, one of them was Lieutenant Tom Garrity from Hudson Fire. The other guys from Hudson had talked the Captain into playing a prank on Tom during the class. Everett had made a phone call to fire alarm asking the dispatcher to go over the vocalarm (our internal communications system to notify the stations of a fire alarm activation, EMS or any other type of call before announcing it over the air) and report that Hudson had a working fire at Paul and Jerry’s, a popular pub that firefighters from both communities frequented and that we were going in Engine 6 mutual aid. The only problem was, Captain Russell forgot to tell Dick and I about the joke that was about to be pulled.

We were in the vicinity of Station 2 when Dick said ”Hey kid, kid, I gotta take a leak. Pullover when we get to the Hill (the nickname of Station 2, as it is located at the base of what is called French Hill )”. I pulled onto the apron so he could go in and use the restroom. While he was “in the loo”, the prank was initiated.

Dick came out of the station like he was shot out of a cannon, opened the driver’s side door to the Mack CF pumper, pushed me aside and said “hang on, kid… we’re going to a fire in Hudson!” He radioed to Fire Alarm that we were on our way.

We were already a quarter mile down the road when the Captain came on the air and said “Engine 6, return to the Hill.” When we got there, the Captain filled us in on the prank. Dick’s reaction? “Oh, for the love of God!” followed by a string of obscenities.

A few years later, I was assigned to Station 3. Dick stayed with the 6’s after it was sent to Station 3. I was his backstepper once again. His tutelage on the fine art of pumping continued, “Listen kid (he always called me kid), this truck isn’t like the newer pieces of shit we got (to Dick, if it wasn’t a Mack, it was a piece of shit) with the fancy gauges. You dial up the pressure, and when the guys on the line say they are comin’ off the floor, dial it down a little!”

In November of 1988, I got promoted to Lieutenant and was kept at Station 3. Dick stopped calling me “kid” and started calling me LT. He took the other newbies under his wing and told them the same things he told me.

DickTremblayDick volunteered to make the coffee, but he never drank it. He loved smell of it in the can and while it was brewing. His drink of choice was Pepsi; he would start his day tour with 2 chocolate covered donuts and a Pepsi. Night tours would be either Hostess cupcakes or Hostess Snowballs and a Pepsi. If a run came in while he was having his donuts and cupcakes, he would be grumpy until we got back to quarters and he finished them.

Dick had another “vice”, in the afternoon at 1600 hours, there was a WWE wrestling show on one of the cable channels. Dick loved to watch it and provide the Station 3 crew with some rather “colorful” commentary about the combatants.

As I wrote earlier, Dick was a character and a hell of a nice guy. He helped his daughter and son in law with their embroidery and screen printing business, loved camping with his wife Paula and going to the Fryeburg Fair in Maine with friends and family.

I think I’ll have a Pepsi and a cupcake in his honor… Rest easy, Brother.

 

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AyotteProfilePhotoPrior to his retirement, Ron Ayotte was 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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1 Comment

  • Paula Tremblay says:

    thank you for sharing brought a few tears but they are good tears. Memories are so special and I’m glad for any that people share with me. He would have smiled and that leaves me with a smile. Thank you again Ron and Lee

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