Third-generation firefighter earned Chief Officer of the Year designation
MIDDLEBURY — It takes a special kind of person to volunteer for a job that entails dragging themselves out of bed and into a snowstorm in the middle of the night because someone’s fire alarm went off. Although being able to help those in need is the main draw for many fledgling firefighters, the realities of firefighting also involve extensive training, unpredictable hours and, especially for the leaders of fire departments, the mundanity of administrative tasks.
Myron Selleck, assistant chief of the Middlebury Fire Department has been a volunteer firefighter since joining in 1980. He is a dedicated firefighter and devotes his time to the Middlebury community. This year, the Addison County Firefighters Association honored him as Chief Officer of the Year.
The Middlebury Fire Department holds an important place in Selleck’s heart. He is a third-generation firefighter, and for him, the department is family.
“Both my grandfather and my father were members of the Middlebury Fire Department before me. I currently also have a son that’s a lieutenant here at Middlebury, so it’s kind of a family thing,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a little boy.”
Although the volunteer turnover at the fire department is approximately seven years, Selleck has been an integral part of the Middlebury Fire Department for 36 years. Even though firefighters do come and go, some of his closest friends are within the 30 or so members at the department. It’s a very strong community, and according to Selleck, the brotherhood at the department makes it special.
“I think what helps maintain the camaraderie and community is the guys who have been around for 30-plus years,” Selleck said. “Once in a while, you’ll get a firefighter that comes along and you can tell early on they’re going to be here for the long haul. They’ve got the whole deal: I grew up in this community, and I want to help my community. It takes a special person.”
Selleck is one these special people. As assistant chief in Middlebury, Selleck takes his place as second in command to the chief of the department. While he takes over the chain of command when the chief is away, much of Selleck’s day-to-day work involves the behind-the-scenes duties at the fire department.
He takes care of administrative duties, makes identification tags for his fellow firefighters, programs the secure access to the fire department building and hosts fire prevention and safety talks at businesses around town. He also mans the department’s emergency line.
“Most of the time it’s just a false alarm or someone calling the wrong number,” Selleck said with a laugh. “Even the emergency line gets telemarketing phone calls.”
Because the department is all volunteer, all members of the department hold additional jobs. These different schedules often make it difficult to have all the members in the same place at the same time, and when the chief isn’t around, Selleck, as second in command, takes over.
“Redundancy (in leadership positions) is certainly absolutely necessary,” he said. “No one person can be in charge all the time because we’re all volunteers.”
Selleck and the firefighters at the Middlebury Fire Department have devoted their free time to helping the community.
“We respond to the needs of the community whenever they call,” he said. “Where else can you make a phone call and get up to 20 or 30 people to help you with one phone call? So they call the fire department.”
The firefighters’ hard work does not go unrecognized. Anywhere Selleck goes, he is acknowledged and accepted by the community, whether by the license plate on his truck or by the shirt that shows that he is a firefighter. The warmth of the community constitutes one of Selleck’s most memorable experiences of being a firefighter.
Selleck is thankful for the community’s appreciation of their work and the strong community he has found within the Middlebury Fire Department. He doesn’t plan on putting his time at the fire department to an end anytime soon and will continue to serve the community as a firefighter.
“It’s an honor not only to be recognized by my peers within the department and the county, but just to be a part of this group, to be a part of the fire service,” said Selleck.
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