FIRTH — After 43 years as chief of the Firth fire station, Bruce Anthony is about to step down as the city’s chief in the all-volunteer Shelley-Firth Fire District.
Anthony has announced that he will be retiring on March 30. The district commissioners have named former assistant chief N. Dale Mecham as Firth’s new chief with Anthony’s departure. There will be an open house for Anthony March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Firth station.
“Bruce has served our volunteer district as the fire chief for over 43 years, giving countless hours of community service,” said Firth City Council President Brandon Jolley, himself one of 30 fire department volunteers.
“He was instrumental in establishing the fire department, and has built the Firth department from nothing to an amazing department with three large class A fire pumpers, seven brush attack fire trucks, and 30 volunteers. We would love the community to know of his service and to join us in wishing him a happy retirement.”
Anthony and his wife, Janice, have four daughters. Anthony said Janice has been looking forward to his retirement after she retired herself as a home family consumer economics teacher at Firth High School.
“This is a wonderful community to raise a family in,” Anthony said.
His father, Vernon, started Anthony Auto Parts on Firth’s Main Street. Anthony started working in the store himself when he was in the seventh grade. He took over the store at age 19 when his father could no longer run it. He took the fire chief’s job at age 20, about the time he got married.
Restoring classic cars is part of his plan during retirement, along with serving a church mission.
The Firth fire station covers parts of Caribou County, Rising River in the Blackfoot area, and the Wolverine area east of Firth.
Being a firefighter in Firth is far from a cushy thing, Anthony said, with volunteers spending hours in training each week in order to stay sharp.
The volunteers come from varying walks of life, including a critical care nurse at EIRMC, a sheriff’s deputy, two paramedics from Pocatello, school teachers, farmers, etc. Anthony has a long list of their varying backgrounds.
Anthony considers the biggest accomplishment in his years as fire chief as being the role his department has played in helping to bring about better ratings in fire department audits, which has helped lower fire insurance rates in the area.
“I’m most proud of the men here. Here in Firth, we have a great bunch of guys,” Anthony said. His job has involved making sure volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “Scheduling takes a big part of what I’ve had to do.”
Anthony looks back on his years’ worth of experiences in good and heartbreaking ways.
“There’s not many fires you go out on without a tear in your eye,” he said. “You see friends and neighbors hurting and in need, it affects you. But you help people in many ways, and overall the good experiences have outweighed the bad ones.”
As for his feelings as he prepares to leave, regardless of the amount of time he’s put into the position, he has still expected more from himself.
“It would have been good to put more time in to it,” Anthony said. “I like to serve.”
With the extreme risks involved in what firefighters do, his biggest goal has been reached.
“After 43 years, I’ve always brought everyone home from fighting a fire or dealing with some other big emergency. There has been some pretty scary times.”