LAKE PLACID - This village's longtime head fire driver, Brad Jaques, will step down at the end of next week as his family prepares to move to Florida.
Jaques has been the fire department's top paid official since January 2004, when then-Mayor Roby Politi appointed him to the post.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it: being able to give back to the community, trying to make improvements and always continuing to move forward," Jaques said.
Jaques' last day on the job is Friday, although he'll remain on the village's payroll until April 23, according to Mayor Craig Randall.
"The dates in between are benefit time that he'll use," the mayor said.
The village has made a big investment in its fire department over the last several years, including the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck and infrastructure improvements at the firehouse. Jaques said he's proud of the progress that's been made.
Jaques came to the position with a strong background in law enforcement: He spent seven years with the village's police department and also served as a deputy with the Essex County sheriff's department. He first got involved with firefighting as a teenager.
"I had started with the Keene Volunteer Fire Department when I was 16, and I'd grown up around the fire service, between my neighbors and relatives that were in the fire department," Jaques said.
He also served as a volunteer with Lake Placid's fire department.
Jaques said he hasn't decided if he'll pursue another job in public safety after he relocates.
The village's Board of Trustees is now tasked with the challenge of replacing a key department head. When Jaques' pending departure was announced last December, Randall said he hoped to select a replacement before Jaques left to facilitate a "smooth transition," but that didn't happen. Randall said last week that the board is "looking at a variety of options.
"I'm hopeful within the coming months that we'll have that matter concluded," he said. "In any event, I have sufficient coverage to keep that department running. Probably the one thing that our current drivers might have some concern with is whether or not we have enough personnel to cover fire calls. I've got assurance from another department that we've got at least a couple of backup drivers that, if there's a call, we can look to them for that.
"Having said that, it's one thing to drive a fire truck; it's another thing when the truck goes to the scene. In Brad Jaques, we're losing a very competent individual in terms of setting up for a fire scene. Our other drivers are trained in that: some of them more, some of them less. It appears, in the short term, that we'll be able to sort that out and keep everything covered."
The head fire driver is a management position for the village, Randall noted.
Randall said he will consult with the North Elba town board and fire department leadership before a final decision is made.
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or email@example.com.