After 30 years of service, District Chief Rick Boyd has retired from the Grimsby Fire Department.
Boyd’s last day was Sept. 8. Now he’s adjusting to life without a pager. “I’ve carried (it) for over 30 years, 24 hours a day…I keep reaching for it on my hip. That is going to be a bit of an adjustment,” he told Niagara Info.
The Grimsby native was appointed to part-time District Chief in the Spring of 2016 to the department. It’s staffed by nine full-time staff members and 56 part-time firefighters.
Prior to stepping into the role, Boyd served in an officer capacity for 20 years. He specialized in medical and rescue. He also taught Emergency First Responders through the Red Cross for over 15 years.
Boyd will remember the countless opportunities he’s had to positively impact the lives of Grimsby residents. Many were strangers. Some were familiar faces. Others were good friends. As a firefighter “you end up touching people you know all the time…over the years, I’ve had people who I don’t remember or recognize come up and say, ‘you were at my house’, or ‘you helped me’. We appreciate it,” he said.
When asked what advice he would offer to new firefighters, Boyd said that understanding the commitments required of the role is key. “When you dedicate yourself to a service like this, whether it be through education, or training, or community service, it takes a lot of hard work…There are sleepless nights. There are times I’ve had to get up in the middle of dinner, leave, and not come back for hours. Your family needs to understand this,” said Boyd.
He also emphasizes the importance of staying in peak physical and mental shape. While there are systems in place that support firefighters at The Grimsby Fire Department, each person is responsible for staying on top of their health.
“We see an awful lot of trauma…(Firefighters) need to work on education in this regard. And standing as a group, standing beside each other. Also, understanding when what I see bothers me, or what somebody else sees bothers them, and doesn’t bother me. You have to understand this in traumatic situations,” said Boyd.
Boyd was a member of an internal group that helps with critical incident stress management. Grimsby Fire Department is also connected to larger groups that support the firefighters with their mental training and resilience.
What’s next for Boyd is more travel with his wife. “This year we will travel in Ontario. Next year we have plans for Northwest Territories and the Yukon and Alaska if we’re allowed,” said Boyd. He’s also a classic car hobbyist so he’s eager to work on his next project.
As for the future of The Grimsby Fire department, the new District Chief has yet to be appointed.