He’s still got ‘the bug’: Former Easthampton fire chief leads Blandford department post-retirement 

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  • Former Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor sits in the bay of the city's firehouse on Payson Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Mottor retired at the end of June and is now working part time as the chief in Blandford. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Former Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor stands in the bay of the city’s firehouse on Payson Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Mottor retired at the end of June and is now working part time as the chief in Blandford. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Former Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor sits in the bay of the city’s firehouse on Payson Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Mottor retired at the end of June and is now working part time as the chief in Blandford. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 8/2/2020 8:41:39 AM

EASTHAMPTON — When Dave Mottor was a teenager in the 1980s, before he became a firefighter, he and several of his peers in Palmer would strap big metal tanks filled with water to their backs and help the local fire department extinguish forest fires.

“That kind of gave me the bug,” said Mottor, 53, who went on to be Easthampton’s fire chief for more than a decade. His last day in that role was in June, and Mottor is now enjoying his new role as the fire chief in Blandford, where he is working 18 hours a week.

“I wasn’t ready to spend my days golfing, because I don’t golf,” Mottor said of his post-retirement gig.  “It’s a great thing to keep me busy a couple days a week.”

Beginning as a call firefighter in 1983 in Palmer at the age of 16, Mottor later became a firefighter in the Air Force, before continuing on in the Air Force Reserve and serving as a civilian firefighter at Westover Air Reserve Base. Then, he found Easthampton.

“I fell in love with it,” said Mottor.

Mottor started as a call firefighter in Easthampton and went full time in 1994. He became deputy chief in Easthampton in 2006 and chief in January of 2009. He cited the five-alarm fire that consumed Full Tilt Auto Body & Collision in May, shortly before his retirement, as one of the toughest calls he’s responded to. “It was heartbreaking,” he said.

Although he’s lived in Easthampton for a while now, Mottor said that earlier in his career, people would say, “You’re not from here — are you, kid?”

Serving the city has been “an honor,” said Mottor. “The people of Easthampton were good to me.”

Chris Norris, Westhampton’s former fire chief, will replace Mottor as chief in Easthampton starting Monday. Although Mottor wasn’t involved in the hiring process, he said that Norris has the skills to keep the department moving forward.

“He’s inheriting a really good department,” said Mottor. “He can build upon what’s there.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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