Town Honors Richard Hutchings for Service to Canton’s Volunteer Fire and EMS Department
March 10, 2016 Community
By John Fitts
On Wednesday, the town honored former fire chief Richard F. Hutchings for his past – and continued – service to the town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department.
Hutchings served as chief of the town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department from 1997-2000 and again from 2004-2016. He first joined the department in 1977.
“Chief Hutchings has set a tremendous example of volunteerism and community spirit and really dedication to the welfare of this entire town,” said first selectman Leslee Hill.
Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner said Hutchings has helped shepherd the department through major changes in every decade – such as the upgrade from basic to advanced medical service in 1980s, combining three departments into one agency in the 1990s, contracting private services to supplement EMS volunteers in the 2000s and the upgrade of EMS to a paramedic level of service being implemented this year
“I can’t imagine how many times you answered that bell in the middle of the might, how many times you went to training session and probably the most painful of all, how many times you had to sit through budget meetings,” Skinner said.
Skinner shared a story about Hutchings repeatedly telling the town it needed a new generator for the Collinsville fire station.
“Sure enough that October storm came and that generator didn’t work,” Skinner said. “He was absolutely correct.”
“Obviously it’s quite flattering to be honored by the group,” Hutchings said Thursday, adding that there were so many others that helped with all those major accomplishments.
“I certainly didn’t get there alone,” Hutchings added. “I did dedicate a lot of time and it was nice to see they recognized that.”
A 1977 graduate of Canton High School, Hutchings has been a certified paramedic since the early 1980s. In 1985 he earned his nursing license and today he is assistant nurse manager in the emergency department at UConn Health Center. He also serves per diem at Sharon Hospital.
Additionally, from 1989-1991, Hutchings served in a medical corps for the U.S. Army.
Today, Hutchings is still active in the department, performing the safety officer’s duties. He is also vice chairman of the temporary Fire/EMS Committee, a group that is studying the department’s facilities and space needs.
“This town, this board and me in particular owe you a debt of gratitude for everything you’ve done but I think the best part is it’s not a retirement,” Skinner said. “As we stand on the threshold of the next decade, Rich is still there leading the department forward.”