Kevin LaRose named Fire Chief of the Year
BRISTOL. — The Bristol Fire Department Assistant Chief LaRose recently was honored with the 2020 Vermont State Firefighters’ Association Robert King Fire Chief of the Year Award. LaRose is a 26-year veteran of the fire service, joining the Bristol Fire Department (BFD) April 6, 1994.
LaRose’s work ethic, knowledge, and natural leadership abilities were evident early on in his fire service career and in only a few short years, was appointed to the rank of lieutenant. After serving seven years with the BFD, LaRose and his family had the opportunity to build a home in the neighboring town of Lincoln, where he was immediately recruited by the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company (LVFC). Within a year the LVFC appointed LaRose to captain. In only two years LaRose took on even more responsibility running the day-to-day operations of the LVFC as their business manager. For the next seven years he was instrumental in the LVFC’s transition to a modern fire service organization.
With the development of a Mission Statement and a Vision for the LVFC, LaRose established an Emergency Medical First Response organization within the LVFC to meet a critical need in the community. During this same time, LaRose organized several very successful recruitment drives and as a result, recruited 12 new firefighters in three years.
In 2011 LaRose and his Family returned to his hometown of Bristol, where he joined the BFD again after a nine-year hiatus. Within his first year back, the department appointed LaRose to the rank of lieutenant.
Over the past 26 years, LaRose has held many leadership positions in the fire service, advancing through the ranks of firefighter, lieutenant, captain, business manager, and assistant chief, a position that he has held for nine years.
In addition to LaRose’s fireground duties he, like all Bristol fire officers, has regularly assigned duties and responsibilities delegated to him by the chief. One of those duties is serving as a program coordinator for one of the department’s many programs. In LaRose’s case, he is responsible for two programs, the Dry-Hydrant and Smoke Detector programs.
As Dry-Hydrant program coordinator, LaRose is responsible for securing five grants from the Vermont Rural Fire Protection Program for the installation of new dry-hydrants and replacement of existing hydrants. The planning and logistical support needed for these projects is great and time consuming. Project management is a necessary skill set required to see these projects through from start to finish. Phone calls, emails, site visits with engineers and contractors, ensuring compliance with environmental rules and regulations, the list goes on. But at the end of the day after all the work is complete, the residents of Bristol are safer for it.
Speaking of keeping Bristol residents safe, the second program that LaRose is responsible for is the BFD Smoke Detector program. LaRose is the BFD liaison with both the American Red Cross and the Vermont Division of Fire Safety, which funds this program by providing the detectors through a federal grant program. LaRose and his team work with Bristol residents on installing these lifesaving devices in the homes of eligible residents.
As the assistant chief LaRose assumes the role of facilities manager for the Town’s 79 West St. fire station and is responsible for ensuring that the facility is fully operational and maintained in accordance with federal and state facility rules and regulations. This is a part-time job itself and just one example of what has become “expected” of a volunteer firefighter when they’re not answering the 2 a.m. alarm or training every other week.
The list of responsibilities is long for any volunteer fire officer. LaRose, like other volunteer officers, just does the work with no expectation of being recognized for going above and beyond.
The world of firefighting is ever changing and evolving. As a leader LaRose embraces this change and evolution as he understands his role and responsibility as a leader and doing what is necessary to protect the health and safety of Bristol’s firefighter’s and ultimately, the town.
LaRose has strong values and believes in the many great traditions of the fire service but equally as important recognizes that many of practices once used in the fire service may not be as effective and as safe as they once were. As a progressive, modern-day chief officer, LaRose has been instrumental in developing and implementing new standard operating procedures and guidelines that reflect today’s national fire service standards and federally mandated regulations for the modern fire service.
Throughout this pandemic LaRose was delegated the responsibility of ensuring the BFD has on hand the necessary equipment and supplies to continue operating safely in the COVID-19 environment. Using the guidance provided by the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont Division of Fire Safety, LaRose has kept the BFD well informed and ensures all are doing their part to keep each other and their families safe.
Some of LaRose’s efforts include securing two-cloth face coverings for each firefighter, which early on in the pandemic was no small feat. LaRose continues to ensure the availability of the necessary cleaning supplies to keep the apparatus and equipment disinfected and safe and securing full-face N95 respirators to use with each firefighter issued a S.C.B.A. face piece. LaRose has been an absolute rock for the department helping it navigate through this new and challenging COVID world.
LaRose’s attention to detail is evident on the emergency scene as well. He has the education, training, knowledge and experience, and is well-versed in the strategies and tactics needed to effectively mitigate modern-day emergencies. As important, he realizes firefighters respond to countless types of emergencies, and no one person has the knowledge or resources to effectively mitigate all aspects of the situation. LaRose is not afraid to delegate or reach out to a more qualified individual when encountering a situation beyond his level of expertise; this is a rare characteristic and one that is to be commended and another example of excellent leadership qualities LaRose has developed over the years.
Kevin LaRose’s leadership also radiates beyond the scope of the fire service. He has many years of leadership with the Boy Scouts and is the Scoutmaster of the local troop. He is frequently at a meeting, preparing a fundraiser, or hiking and camping in a remote area with the youth of Bristol, passing down life skills to the next generation who might not otherwise have a chance to learn such important lessons. His efforts with the organizations he’s involved in are tireless, and these efforts have benefitted many.
With all LaRose’s achievements as a Bristol Fire Department chief officer, he still finds the time for many other activities he holds dear. Kevin is a husband to Megan, and a father to Emma and Koby. He is always on the move to a sporting event to show his support, or at other various school activities. His commitment to family is second to none, and this commitment carries throughout all things important to him. The Bristol Fire Department is lucky to be on Kevin LaRose’s list of things he holds near and dear to his heart.
Kevin LaRose has been a key person within the BFD’s leadership team holding a solid vision for the department, as well as employed remarkable leadership skills, to help build the admirable community-based organization the BFD is today.
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