“Never the same”
Michael Brousseau reflects on 33 years as fire chief
Sitting in his office on his last day, now former Fire Chief Michael Brousseau said the one of the best things about working as a firefighter is that every day has something new.
Brousseau stepped down on Aug. 29, concluding a 33-year career with the department. After serving in the Coast Guard out of high school, he took the civil service exam and was hired to the department in 1986. Back then, the fire engines were all standard transmission, as opposed to the automatics driven today. The older vehicles also had the open-air cab design, and the training wasn’t much different than learning how to drive a truck.
When asked how the role has changed, Brousseau said that when he started, the department worked more fires than today.
“Today, our business is EMS, the two ambulances are going all the time,” he said. “We rarely have fires—a lot of that I have to credit to fire prevention.”
Brousseau added that the ambulance service has changed a lot since his early days in the department. Back then, he said EMS was much simpler, while today, the training they undergo is equivalent to that of a nurse in a hospital. The equipment has come a long way as well—form bandages and intravenous lines to defibrillators, there is little that EMS cannot do.
“They’re very talented people,” he said.
Brousseau rose through the ranks during his time in North Attleborough—in 1991 he made lieutenant, became captain in 1996, was the deputy chief from 1998-2003, and acting chief until 2016. When he became deputy chief his work schedule changed significantly. He didn’t go out on calls as often, though he was connected to the department 24/7 through his phone and pager. He joked that not having that link would be one of the biggest differences going forward.
“I always had to be aware of what was going on,” he said “It’ll be nice to not be able to worry about that.”
At a recent Town Council meeting, Brousseau was honored for his service to the town. Council President Keith Lapointe said Brousseau worked through some challenging times and it was impressive watching instill calm within the department during his time as chief. On Friday, Aug. 30, Christopher Coleman was sworn in as the new fire chief.
“You’ve been a pleasure to everyone who has worked with you,” said Lapointe.
Brousseau said he doesn’t have too many plans for his retirement as of now, though he plans to do some traveling. He said that he’ll miss the people, both those in the department and in town.
“I enjoyed doing something different every day,” he said. “You never know what the call would be.”