Groveland Firefighters Past and Present Trade Stories as Holiday Potluck Dinner Returns

From left, Firefighter Mike Neenan, Retired Firefighter Bill Neenan, Firefighter Tracy Gilford and retired Firefighter Billy Sheehan, share conversation and a table as they eat. (Courtesy photograph.)

The Groveland Fire Department and Groveland Firefighters Association renewed a longtime tradition this past Tuesday, hosting a holiday potluck dinner for retired and former firefighters at the central fire station.

Chief Robert Valentine said laughs were shared, stories were told and firefighter dishes were kept warm in slow cookers as retired and current firefighters were joined by former partners who have since moved on to other departments. The dinner organized by the Groveland Firefighters Association and Firefighter Al Credit.

“We do this as a way to keep guys that came through here, whether during a full career or just for a few years, connected to the place,” said Credit, who has worked to maintain a list of former Groveland firefighters. “They like to come back to see what equipment we have, to see what’s going on around the station and to meet the younger guys.”

Following a meal, a slideshow of old Groveland Fire photos played on a television in the station’s second floor while firefighters continued exchanging stories and played a few games of pool.

Valentine and Groveland Firefighters Association President Lt. Dave Evans said keeping in touch with older generations of firefighters is important.

“You share the stories of what has happened in the past,” Evans said as he paused from an exchange with retired Firefighter Russ Tine. “We were just talking about how it’s gotten busier. It’s really important to keep in touch with previous generations and we got out of that habit during the COVID-19 pandemic, so this is the first big get-together we’ve had in three years.”

Valentine said he learned volumes from his mentors on the department as a younger firefighter, and credited retired Deputy Chief Bruce Andrews, retired Chief Mark Comire and retired Chief Rich Lamoureux with helping to teach him much of what he knows.

“From generation to generation they tell stories about when they were here and the lessons they learned, and hopefully they’ll leave something that the younger crowd will pass to the next generation as well,” said Valentine. “Keeping in touch with previous generations of firefighters helps us remember actual events and the lessons they learned from the mistakes that they made.”

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