Bellows Falls taps McGinnis as new fire chief

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Town of Rockingham and Bellows Falls Village Municipal Manager Shane P. O’Keefe announced today the hiring of Shaun McGinnis to serve as the full-time Fire Chief of Bellows Falls Village. His first day in the office will be Dec. 11, 2017.

McGinnis, 46, is a 30-year resident of Bellows Falls and serves as the deputy chief of the call firefighters of the Bellows Falls Fire Department. He is presently employed as the shop manager of Cooperman Fife & Drum in Westminster, Vt.

McGinnis began his firefighting career with the Saxtons River Volunteer Fire Department and eventually the Rockingham Volunteer Fire Department. He became a member of the Bellows Falls Fire Department as a call firefighter in 1996, and has been promoted through the ranks to his present rank as deputy chief. He is a certified level II firefighter and licensed emergency medical responder, and also serves as a part-time police officer for the village.

O’Keefe remarked, “Shaun is an accomplished firefighter and natural leader, and extremely well respected in the community. Given the transition in the type of emergency response services that we’re in the process of implementing he was the clear choice and best fit for the position. We had a number of qualified candidates and those interviewed all demonstrated great talent, but Shaun stood out based on his demonstrated skills, familiarity with the call members and his vision on how to lead the departmental in its evolving structure.”

Village Police Chief Ronald Lake, who has served since August 2015 as the fire department’s administrative chief, has tendered his resignation from the position effective the day McGinnis takes office in order to make way for McGinnis’ hiring. He continues in his position as police chief. “On behalf of the Village Trustees and the citizens of Bellows Falls, I want to thank Chief Lake for his service to the village over the past few years in his role at the fire department,” said O’Keefe. He will assist the incoming fire chief with the transition.

Following a vote to reduce the village budget by $241,290 held on June 20, 2017, the Village Trustees on Aug. 22, 2017 voted to form a Fire Implementation Committee to assist the Board in determining how best to reform the fire department. On Sept. 26, 2017 the Board of Trustees accepted a number of options recommended by the committee, including changing to a call department and hiring of a full-time fire chief to oversee all aspects of the Department. A call department differs from a volunteer department in that firefighters are paid for training and responding to emergency events.

For further information, contact Municipal Manager Shane O’Keefe, call 802-463-3964, Ext. 104 or email

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