The Klein Volunteer Fire Department swore in Michael Gosselin—the first paid fire chief in the department’s 68-year history—during a ceremony July 20.
Since its inception in 1951, the KVFD has been led by an elected volunteer, Deputy Chief Eric Reinkemeyer said during the ceremony. However, Reinkemeyer said over the past almost seven decades the needs of the Klein area have grown exponentially with its population.
“Times have changed,” Reinkemeyer said. “Long gone are the days where most people live and work in close proximity. The community has grown, and the needs for fire suppression and rescue have grown.”
Today, the KVFD has seven stations, 30 pieces of equipment and more than 200 personnel covering 52 square miles. Reinkemeyer said while elected volunteers have served as KVFD’s chief for the past 68 years, the role is a lot to ask of someone without compensation.
“The responsibilities of a fire chief are fierce and demanding,” Reinkemeyer said. “They must ensure the firefighters they lead are well-trained and have all the tools and gear they need for every possible scenario that may arise. The fire chief must also be inspired and motivated, leading from the front and paving the way. So is it right for the department and the community to ask a volunteer to devote this much time away from their job and family? The members of this department have answered.”
The KVFD underwent an organizational bylaw change and put the decision through two committees, nine phone interviews and two face-to-face interviews prior to swearing in Gosselin on July 20, Reinkemeyer said.
Originally from Manchester, New Hampshire, Gosselin grew up as the grandson and nephew of firefighters and is also the son of a Navy veteran. Gosselin and his family moved to Klein when he was a freshman in high school, and he graduated from Klein High School.
In 1983, Gosselin joined the Spring Fire Department and later joined the Conroe Fire Department, where he served for 32 years before retiring as deputy chief.
“He told me today that he loved the job the same way the first day and the last day,” Reinkemeyer said.
For the past two years, Gosselin has served as KVFD’s executive administrator running day-to-day operations of the department. Following a lengthy process, Reinkemeyer said the department’s membership approved the board’s recommendation to hire Gosselin as KVFD’s first paid chief earlier this month.
“I accept this position with a great deal of responsibility and respect,” Gosselin said after taking the oath of office.
Concluding the swearing-in ceremony, Reinkemeyer presented Gosselin with his first KVFD fire chief helmet.