Guemes Island Fire Chief Gerry Francis Retires
In July, Guemes Island Fire Chief Gerry Francis retired after 12 years of service to our community.
Gerry’s history with the Guemes Island Fire Department is chronicled in archived issues of the Guemes Tide (see guemestide.org). In the October 2010 issue of the Tide, Edith Walden writes that Gerry and his wife Lorraine “first moved to Guemes from Utah in 2004, when Gerry retired as a maintenance planner with Kimberly-Clark. They constructed their home on Samish Street in 2005. In November 2006, a storm threw a huge fir tree through their bedroom roof at 5:30 a.m., just missing Lorraine’s head. Gerry remembers the impressive help they received from then Fire Chief Carl Meinzinger and fire volunteers Bob and Nancy White. In 2008, at age 66, Gerry joined the Guemes Island Fire Department after seeing a recruiting flyer.” Gerry’s life was anything but boring after that.
The required firefighter training and rigorous emergency medical technician (EMT) training program are challenging for even young recruits. At age 66, Gerry excelled, graduating as class valedictorian at the recruit academy. Gerry was certified as an EMT in January 2011 after many hours of home study, classroom training, exams, and volunteer shifts in an ambulance and an emergency room.
The Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 17 appointed Gerry Francis to the assistant chief’s position in 2011. In 2014, Gerry was promoted to chief. As a first responder to many medical and fire emergencies on Guemes, Chief Francis has provided compassionate care to those in need. He has led his dedicated team of volunteers in protecting home and property from fire, as well as mitigating storm damage until other emergency responders can arrive.
Mentoring new firefighters strengthens every fire department while providing continuity of service. Gerry has mentored newly appointed Fire Chief Olivia Snell, who served as assistant chief for the past five years.
A grateful community wishes to thank Gerry Francis for his many years of service. In addition, we thank Gerry’s wife, Lorraine, who is also stepping away from the fire department where she served as Public Information Officer and “Chief Chef.” They will both be missed on the front lines.