Fire Chief Charles E. Cloutier Jr. has announced he will retire in early January after 23 years with the Fire Department, 11 of them as chief.
“We all have heavy hearts hearing this,” Selectman Joseph J. Szafarowicz said at a board meeting Tuesday.
Each selectman, in turn, expressed similar sentiments and thanked the chief for his leadership in building the department into the professional organization it is today.
Since Chief Cloutier joined Charlton department as a call firefighter in 1994, it has grown from three full-time members working five days a week to 22 full-time members covering the town 24/7.
Chief Cloutier began his career in architectural woodworking and left it for the fire service.
The chief said in an interview he retires to Cape Cod, where he will resume woodworking.
“I feel very comfortable handing the department off to the next generation, per se,” he said. “I’m going to recommend the department be given to (Deputy Fire Chief Ed J.) Knopf.”