NEWPORT — Fire Chief Wayne Conroy started his fire service career as a call firefighter with the Newport Fire Department 45 years ago and on Feb. 28 he will be stepping down and heading into retirement.
Before leaving, however, Conroy will be honored as Distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce.
He will receive the award at the Chamber’s annual dinner meeting in the Newport Opera House on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Others being honored that night will be MJ Harrington Jewelers as the Business of the Year and Victoria Burroughs and Benjamin Jachim-Gallagher, as outstanding students.
Even though he won’t be officially associated with the fire department once he retires, Conroy plans to help out at several community events each year.
“I’ll continue to work at the chicken barbecue hosted by the fire department each year at the Apple Pie Crafts Fair,” he said. He’ll also be a member of the three-man “chain gang” moving the yard markers up and down the sidelines at Newport High School home football games.
He expects to land a part-time job to keep busy on weekdays. He will be eligible to work 25 hours per week. Conroy said he will continue to enjoy doing yard work including mowing the lawn at the Oak Street home where he resides with his wife Cindy.
Conroy said he enjoys NASCAR races and in July he’ll be close to the action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon as a member of the Speedway Safety Team on Turn 1.
Now 63, Conroy started his fire service career in February of 1974 as a call firefighter at the Newport Fire Department.
He was assigned to the Call Company on Engine 3 and eventually worked his way up to 2nd Lieutenant under veteran Fire Chief Jim Wright.
Conroy said for many years he was a lieutenant on Engine 3 and became captain of the department, third in command, through Fire Chief Jack Marcotte’s time as chief. When Marcotte retired along with Deputy Chief Bruce McDonald, Peter Lamb took over as chief and Conroy was promoted to full-time Deputy Chief.
When Lamp stepped down in 2008, Conroy was elevated to Chief. Last September Conroy completed his 11th year as Chief.
Conroy said he made the decision to become a firefighter when he tagged along with his Dad, Donald “Bud” Conroy and witnessed the New Year’s Eve fire at the Newport House on Sunapee and Main streets.
The Conroy family resided on Oak Street when Wayne was born. He graduated from Newport High School where he was a fullback and punt returner on the school’s football team.
The Conroy couple are parents of two sons, Christopher, a dispatcher with the Newport Police Department and Corey, a 1st Lieutenant in the Newport Fire Department where he is also an Advanced EMT with the Newport Ambulance Service. The Conroys have five grandchildren.
In his spare time, Conroy plans to go deer hunting. He enjoys going to shopping malls and watching sports on television
“I like the people in Newport; they are generous and stick together,” the retiring fire chief stated.
“I appreciated serving the people of Newport. It was a great ride and I’m going to miss it,” Conroy said.