Salem fire chief to retire after 40 years

Posted & filed under News.

After 40 years with the Salem Fire-EMS, Fire Chief Chester “Pat” Counts is retiring.

He announced this week that he will step down from the job Jan. 1. Counts began his career with the Salem fire department as a volunteer on the Salem Rescue Squad in 1973, before joining full time one year later. He became fire chief Sept. 10, 2001. In addition to being the city’s fire chief, he also serves as the emergency management coordinator for Salem.

“A lot of people have a tough time getting out of bed at 40 years old, and I have been doing this job for 40 years,” he said. “It was just time.”

Counts, who is 62, said he did not have any immediate retirement plans, except to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He said he will miss being at the fire department since it’s been such a major part of his life.