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Mystic Fire chief announces retirement

Mystic — Mystic Fire Chief Frank "Fritz" Hilbert, who has been Mystic's fire chief for more than 30 years, announced Monday that he is retiring from his position as fire chief and fire marshal effective July 30.

Hilbert, who has been with the department for 50 years, has served as fire chief since 1989 and was appointed fire marshal in 1996. He said it has been his pleasure to serve the fire department and the public for this period, but it's time to move toward retirement.

"It's been the most rewarding experience in my life," he said during the fire district's annual meeting. "It's been my honor and privilege to serve with the men and women of the Mystic Fire Department and the community with duty, pride and honor. I now wish you all the best and bid you farewell."

He added later that he's leaving the department in a good place and wishes all the best to his successor. He said the fire department has a good, active membership, and though some members are getting older, younger people are coming aboard who will hopefully stay with the department for awhile.

He reflected that it's a more challenging time to get volunteers, compared with the 1970s when people couldn't wait to join the fire service because of their father's service or their relative's service and the sense of community. But he said some of that continues today, and the Mystic Fire Department is fortunate as a lot of other departments are not in the same place with its volunteers. He said the fire department is doing well and tries to take care of volunteers as best as it can.

He added that he had mixed feelings about leaving his position but it is time and "there comes a time for all of us to look at other horizons."

He was loudly applauded during the annual meeting and thanked for his service.

k.drelich@theday.com

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