Interim fire chief selected in Warwick

  • Joe Larson is the new interim chief of the Warwick Fire Department, having received the Selectboard’s blessing in a vote last week. Staff File Photo/Shelby Ashline

Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2020 7:57:20 PM

WARWICK — Joe Larson is Warwick’s new interim fire chief, having received the Selectboard’s blessing this week.

Selectboard member Todd Dexter abstained from the vote to appoint Larson to a one-year term as interim chief of the Fire Department, while Chair Lawrence “Doc” Pruyne voted in favor, along with member Brian Snell. Larson is taking over for outgoing Fire Chief Ron Gates, whose last day was June 30.

“I am happy to serve the town that I grew up in,” Larson said, “and now be able to manage and keep the Fire Department up-to-date with meeting the changing needs of the fire service.”

The Selectboard intends to reassess the arrangement at the end of the one-year term.

Larson has been a member of the Warwick Fire Department for 12 years, having started as a junior firefighter. He said he helped form the first official junior firefighters program for the town by coming up with different ways to train to keep members active.

“I was also one of the members that started a muster team that went to many competitions over the years and competed with area towns,” Larson said. “We were very successful.”

The team participated in muster competitions for about 10 years. However, as of last year, Larson said, the team had to stop competing due to dwindling numbers of interested volunteers.

Larson was appointed to lieutenant shortly after a devastating fire that claimed the lives of five residents in 2017.

“I was in charge of accountability as a firefighter, and the chief saw how well I was doing, especially under the horrible circumstances of what occurred that day,” Larson said.

He holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Herkimer College in New York, and an associate’s degree in fire science from Greenfield Community College. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Worcester State University, and serves as a basic EMT for the Warwick Fire Department.

While Gates is stepping down from the leadership role, he has chosen to remain with the department as a firefighter and will help finish construction of the new Fire Station addition. Gates has been a member of the Warwick Fire Department for 18 years. He was a lieutenant and training officer for six years, and worked full-time for MedStar Ambulance prior to taking the chief’s position.

Larson said he looks forward to continuing to develop the department, as well as completing the new Fire Station that members have been fundraising for and working toward for the last few years.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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