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Assistant fire chief stays current with training, recruiting practices

By CLAIRE GALVIN

Chronicle Staff Writer

MANSFIELD — Mansfield Assistant Fire Chief George Thompson can tell you the “simple things” are what keep firefighters interested in the position.

“My favorite part is seeing the looks on people’s faces when you help them,” Thompson said. “The ‘thank yous,’ and the feeling that I made a difference.”

These days, Thompson is responsible for recruiting others to help make a difference.

To help him do that, Thompson was selected as one of 10 recipients in the state to receive a scholarship award from the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association at this weekend’s International Association of Fire Chiefs symposium in Florida.

Thompson said, as assistant chief, he is responsible for overseeing the volunteer and paid staff of the fire department.

He hires, trains and supports the firefighters.

“You have to be constantly up-to-date on what they are trained to do,” Thompson said. “You can’t assume all firefighters are trained to do everything. We work with them heavily when they first join to get them to the point where they can work efficiently alone.”

Thompson said he had planned to attend conference classes on the marketing aspect of recruitment.

He also wanted to know more about the personal aspect of volunteering, including why people begin and continue to volunteer.

Thompson also planned to network with other fire and emergency personnel.

“I’ve recently spoken with people who have been there before and they said it was amazing and so helpful,” Thompson said.

He said the program is sold out every year.

Besides recruiting and training, Thompson provides operational support at calls to make sure the town is fully covered.

He checks over equipment and trucks to make sure they are performing smoothly for every call.

Since he was 16 years old, Thompson has been involved with the fire department in one way or the other.

“It’s been in my family,” Thompson said. “Two days after my 16th birthday, I was sworn in. There are a lot of families that followed at the time.”

He said he followed in the steps of his father and grandfather.

On top of volunteering with the department, Thompson also works full time at the G.M. Thompson & Sons animal feed store, which he runs with his cousin.

Those interested in getting involved with the Mansfield Fire Department can do so by emailing mfdvolunteer@mansfieldct.org.

 

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