WILLIAMSTOWN - The majority of the firefighters from the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department welcomed their new chief on Tuesday in the Williamstown City Council chambers.
"It's a real honor being voted on by my peers to be the new chief," said James L. Dean Jr., 51, who goes by J.L. "This is something I was surprised by."
The fire department's members voted Dean, who has been with the fire department for 27 years, into the position last month following the retirement of longtime Fire Chief Joe Ruf, who had been chief 26 years. Ruf passed away suddenly two weeks later on Nov. 11.
"With as pleased as I am to have been named chief, this is a bittersweet night for me because Joe isn't here," Dean said.
Dean said the 28 volunteer members of the fire department should not expect any big changes with the department or the way it runs with the change in chief.
"Joe did a great job and I want to keep the department the way he left it," the new chief said.
One thing Dean said he is excited about is new firefighters who have recently joined the department.
"We have six new guys coming on," he said. "Some of them are still in high school and, to me, that is really exciting that the younger members of the community are getting involved and wanting to be part of things."
Dean has lived in Williamstown for 50 years, is married to Debbie Dean, has a daughter Charity, granddaughter Hope and son Kent, who is also a member of the fire department.
"I am pleased to have the support of my peers, the mayor and council and look forward to working with and serving the community," he said.
Following the council meeting, Mayor Jean Ford and the members of city council thanked not only Dean, but all of the firefighters in attendance for their hard work and all they do for the community.