Bloomfield fire chief to retire after 40 years

George Duncan will retire on Oct. 10 after nearly 45 years with the Bloomfield Fire Department

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON — After spending nearly 40 years as the fire chief for the city of Bloomfield, George Duncan is set to retire next month.

Bloomfield Fire Department Chief George Duncan will be stepping down from his position on Oct. 10.

Duncan said he wants to keep things low key as he exits the fire department he joined in 1971 when he was 20 years old. His last day will be Oct. 10.

“It’s time for me to just enjoy some other things — that’s it,” Duncan said.

Duncan also said he felt like he has had a great career and will miss working with his firefighters and the different city agencies.

Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein said he has known Duncan about 30 years and described him as good friend and neighbor.

“He was fire chief when I was a Bloomfield police officer. He’s done an outstanding job,” Eckstein said. “He fights for his employees and his department to be better.”

A career highlight for Duncan was improving the Bloomfield Fire Department’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) classification to a Class 2, putting the department among the top 3 percent in the nation, he said. When he was hired as fire chief in 1976, the ISO rating was Class 9.

“That’s a crowning achievement,” Duncan said.

Eckstein also cited Duncan’s work to push for a new Bloomfield fire station, a 12,000-square-foot addition to the old facility that opened in fall 2008, according to The Daily Times archives.

Bloomfield Fire Department Chief George Duncan, left, and Capt. Travis Olbert look over paperwork March 4 before a safety meeting.

“He really raised the quality of the fire department,” Eckstein said.

The Bloomfield City Council will vote Monday on a motion to name Assistant Fire Chief John Mohler the new fire chief. Mohler has 21 years with the fire department — seven as a volunteer and 14 years as a paid staff member.

“He taught me everything I know about the fire service,” Mohler said about Duncan, describing him as a mentor.

Mohler also said Duncan’s work to lower the city’s ISO rating also led to more funding from the state to purchase equipment.

City Councilor Curtis Lynch has been a Bloomfield Fire Department volunteer since 1971 when he was 15 years old. He described Duncan as his brother, stating their families spend a lot of time together.

“He leads by example. He (isn’t) afraid to get his hands (dirty),” Lynch said. “He gets a lot of respect for doing that.”

The council is also is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on a proposal to extend the employment of firefighters paid by a $1 million federal grant. The grant expires in the middle of October.

Lynch said the fire department may have additional funds that could be allocated to keep the paid firefighters employed.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.