Former Chief of the Nantucket Fire Department (NFD), Paul Rhude, has recently retired from his position after nearly 2 years. His form of resignation was submitted in June due in combination to the the lack of housing and being able to see his family. Nantucket High School Graduate, Stephen A. Murphy, had been filling in since July but has now been named Chief of the NFD after the town meeting held in mid-September. He has been working for the town since 1987 after high school and with Murphy’s family living on Nantucket and already with housing, his main focus can now be with the NFD.

“Strengthen the skills and abilities of the people that work here.” Is Murphy’s main focus as he steps into his new commanding position. To strengthen the firefighters, means “investing in training and growth of the members”, according to Murphy in order to “continue the expectations and demands put on the department.”

Murphy didn’t think he would be in this position as he wanted to first work with aviation controlling air traffic.

“I had a completely different idea of what I wanted to be doing,” Murphy admitted. “I had worked at the airport in high school and had ideas of continuing in aviation, specifically working as an Air Traffic Controller after graduating. I took the test a couple times but it never happened.”

After working in aviation for four years, he then found himself in the fire department where he enjoyed the work and training. His passion for the job did not go unnoticed, and he soon began training to become chief.

“While at the Airport I took the EMT course that was offered at the fire department,” Murphy said. “I found I liked the job and decided to work towards getting a position in the department.”

Firefighters are sure to be ready for emergencies after going through training and checking their equipment daily to make sure they are functioning safely to get the tasks done.

“Everyone knows the job means putting out fires, but some do not know we run the ambulance as well.” With firefighters being busy with preparation and training, they work 25 hour shifts to perform these different tasks.

“The fire station is their home while working,” Murphy emphasized.  

As chief, the work mainly consist of paperwork for administration and making sure that the training, equipment and skills are at best in case of an emergency.

After resigning from the NFD, Paul Rhude has been able to work on projects that Chief Murphy will now pick up on. “The new fire station project and upgrading the ambulance service to advance life support level, would be two of the larger objectives for the department.” Not only will he be striving to finish these projects, he also says that he has “felt strongly about having paramedics giving care on Nantucket for a long time.”

Although Murphy didn’t have intentions to become a firefighter, he has grown an appreciation for his responsibility for our town.

“When people call for help, it is at some of the worse times of their life. Being able to help and make a positive impact is the most rewarding feeling sometimes.”  

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