NORTH ADAMS — After more than three decades working for the city, Fire Chief Steve Meranti will step down at the end of January.
Meranti has led the fire department since 2003.
“This has been the most rewarding career that anyone could ask for,” he said. “I loved being the city’s fire chief for the past 17 years.”
At a small news conference on Wednesday morning with Mayor Tom Bernard, Meranti thanked city leadership, residents, firefighters and his family.
“This isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “When you’re in this role, if you don’t have the support of your family behind you, you’re not going to be successful.”
Meranti will retire on Jan. 26. Bernard said that he expects to launch a formal search for a replacement chief in December.
“The chief has been a really incredible partner for me,” Bernard said. “Somebody that I rely on, somebody I trust, somebody I can set my watch by.”
Meranti began working with the city in 1987 as the assistant wire inspector. He became wire inspector in 1992 and was appointed as a reserve firefighter for North Adams as 2002. In 2003, he was promoted to lead the department as fire director. He was formally designated as fire chief in 2019. Meranti also served as a firefighter and captain in the Clarksburg Fire Department.
Bernard said Meranti helped convince him to bring back the position of fire chief in the city. He credited Meranti for his collaboration with other public safety agencies and his leadership during several major events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the response to tropical storms Irene and Sandy, the collapse of a local communication tower and other emergencies.
In 2015, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency recognized Meranti as Emergency Management Director of the Year. That same year, Meranti and other members of the Northern Berkshire Regional Emergency Management Committee received a preparedness award from FEMA.
“We work very well together, we have good people involved all around,” Meranti said. “It’s really a team effort up here.”
Meranti also secured more than $4 million in grants for the department, according to the mayor’s office.
“Pretty much everything in the firehouse has been purchased with a grant, except the chief’s car and truck five,” he said.
Meranti credited his firefighters for his success. He called the start of his tenure a “tough time in the fire station,” as the union president had recently been fired and three firefighters laid off. He said he was able to bring those laid off firefighters back with the help of a grant.
“We just started building, building back from where we were,” he said. “I give my guys credit. I never felt unwelcome in the firehouse.”
During his leadership, firefighters went through training for active shooter situations, and the department began carrying Narcan for opioid overdoses.
Meranti said he had always planned to retire at age 55 and wants to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren after “lots of sleepless nights.”
“I’ve left my wife in restaurants by herself,” he said. “I’ve missed birthday parties, Christmas … I have the best support system ever. They’ve sacrificed a lot for me. It’s time to give back and spend time with them.”