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Tribute honours retiring County fire chief who has loved fire trucks since childhood

Robert Rutter was presented a plaque honouring his years of service from Capt Jim Young and firefighter Jerry Ferguson.

Story and photos by Sue Capon
Amid well wishes from near and far, warm tributes, hugs where possible, and some tears, the firefighting community bid a grand retirement to Fire Chief Robert Rutter, Friday.

“It’s time,” said Rutter who will be celebrating his 61st birthday this month by looking forward to spending quality time with his wife Christine, three adult children, and grandchildren.

“But it is tough to say goodbye. We’ve got the best team here you could ever ask for.”

Rutter took over the position on Canada Day last year, following the retirement of Scott Manlow. He was the County’s third chief since amalgamation (George Pettingill being the first). Rutter’s 38-year career includes 14 years as Deputy Chief. He has also been a training officer and captain at the Wellington station.

Ahead of a more formal send-off in the fire hall including firefighters and chiefs from departments at Bancroft, Stirling, Trent Hills, Port Hope, Cobourg, Belleville, Tyendinaga, County stations, County staff and Mayor Steve Ferguson, a small gathering was held in the lunchroom with pizza and a celebratory slide show highlighting photographs of Rutter over the years.

“That brought back a lot of memories,” Rutter told the group, sharing the story of him as a young boy growing up in Bloomfield who “absolutely loved fire trucks”. When the air raid sirens blared, he and friends would hop on their bicycles to race to the firehall downtown to watch the volunteers leap into action. There were no pagers then, and no high-tech 9-1-1 system firefighters rely on today.

The County’s fire department, Rutter said, is in good hands, and he noted CAO Marcia Wallace had done a good job “pulling us all together” in a management team meeting. An announcement of his replacement is expected early next week.

Deputy Fire Chief Tim Kraemer said Rutter was one of the first people he met when he became a volunteer with the department.

“One of the things I will really remember is how positive and vibrant, you are,” said Kraemer. “One of the things you’ve always been a champion of is investing your time into all of us here, making sure we get trained. You’ve been a champion of skills, and safety. I want to thank you for that kind of dedication.”

A plaque was presented on behalf of full-time staff, and all those present, to thank Rutter for a lifetime of dedication and service.

Retiring Fire Chief Robert Rutter was delighted to receive a helmet signed by firefighters, presented by Mike Branscombe.

Fire Prevention Officer Mike Branscombe also presented a helmet signed by everyone and told him to “enjoy the sun.”

Christine and Robert Rutter looking forward to quality time with family, and a vacation.

Robert and Christine are looking forward to a retirement holiday at a favourite location – well known to Bernie Dunphy who looks after the department’s clerical needs, as she ordered a giant happy retirement celebration cake featuring a warm beach and inviting oceanfront.

“Christine also needs somebody to do the housework at home – and do some cooking,” Rutter joked.

“I’m hoping he can expand his repertoire,” laughed Christine. “Otherwise it’s hamburgers, hot dogs and shake and bake chicken.”

Rutter notes he will soon return to volunteer work with the Hastings Prince Edward Mutual Fire Aid Training Complex at Quinte West where volunteers are trained. The program, he says, is near and dear to his heart, and has been for the past 14 years.

“Giving back to the community is what it’s all about. The community has been good to me over the years and I need to continue to contribute and give back… You never know what else I will do. I might pop up here and there.”

Rutter was taken home from his final day on the job in grand style – aboard the firetruck he has loved all his life.

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  1. Barbara Shane says:

    Congratulations and Thank you for all your hard work. Enjoy your Retirement.

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