Jeff Smith honored for years of service to fire department

A plaque showing honors given to Jeff Smith by members of the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department. (The Leader-Herald/Jason Subik)

FORT PLAIN — After serving as an officer of the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department for about the last 10 years, Jeff Smith announced on Facebook Wednesday that he was stepping back from the leadership of the unit and will serve only as a volunteer firefighter.

Smith, who is Montgomery County’s Emergency Management Director, served as chief of the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department for the past three years. Before that he served the unit in other officer positions, including assistant chief, captain and lieutenant. He has been a member of the department for 30 years.

“I’ve got some things that are coming up in my future that are going to take a lot of time and I think it’s just time to let someone else do it,” Smith said. “I’m definitely not getting out of the fire service, I’ve just stopped being an officer that’s all.”

Smith said while he was the county’s emergency management director, there had been no conflicts between the two positions.

“When we’ve had emergencies in Fort Plain, I had to act as the emergency manager and somebody else had to be the chief, because there was no way I could do both,” he said. “Being an officer is just very involved. But, this way, if there’s a fire that pops up, I can just be a firefighter, and I can step away and handle it as an emergency manager, if necessary.”

Jeff Smith

The Fort Plain Village Trustees voted to accept a new slate of elected officers for the Fort Plain Fire Department Tuesday night. These are the 2017 officers for the unit:

∫ Chief — Brian Muehleck

∫ 1st Assistant – Bill Ehrenreich

∫ 2nd Assistant — Brian Burkhart

∫ 3rd Assistant — Justin Smith

∫ Captain — Adam Swartz

∫ Lieutenant — Eric Larsen

“It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the men and women of the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department and the various communities, Fort Plain, Nelliston, town of Minden, town of Palatine, Canajoharie, Palatine Bridge and St. Johnsville, as the Fire Chief for the last three years,” Smith stated on his Facebook page. “I decided not to seek re-election as there are other things in my future that will require the dedication and commitment given to the fire chief position. I am so proud of everything the members of this fire department have done, do everyday and will continue to do. They are very dedicated, trained, professional and work very hard to serve the communities. Thank you to everyone for the support, cooperation and willingness to work with me and our officers. Congratulations to the new officers, I wish them the best and certainly a safe, successful year.”

Smith said being fire chief enabled him to have experiences and memories he could never form any other way.

“With volunteer firefighters, it’s amazing. You’ve got members of the community who drop what they are doing to come and help the community to do what needs to be done to try to resolve the issue,” he said.