Weston Voices: Justin Woodside Named Fire Chief

As most of you know, the Owl is a fan of Weston’s Public Safety groups including Weston Police and Weston Fire. If only Weston Fire would get a fire dog as I hint alllllll the time, they could move into first place. And yet, no. So, the police department has K9 Knox, ergo they win. Unless my house is on fire, and then Fire wins, hopefully at least, since it does take about 9 minutes on a best-case scenario to hit the northside where I live. I try not to think about it. I just thought about it.

Chief David Soar announced his retirement earlier this spring effective July 29 and the Owl had a brief moment of mourning for all the fun dry humored emails I have received from him over the years. And then the happy news came last Thursday via Select Board meeting that current Deputy Chief Justin Woodside will be his replacement, barring any unforeseen contract issues like he only will drink Evian in his dressing room or whatever. See, I do read People magazine and water always seems to be a sticking point.

The Owl immediately sent a note over to DC Woodside and asked important things like when the new ambulance would be available for me to test-drive, which animal would be named station pet, and if he would answer a few questions. Which he did–and it went like this: soon but no test drive by Owls, no station pet because there is too much cooking going on there at the station (I do not understand how they get rid of leftovers and dropped food without a labrador) and yes.

I have to say that the fact that he is a homegrown ‘cat just makes me pretty happy, because now I get to end the interview with my favorite phrase. Here goes:

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Owl: How many years have you been with Weston Fire Department? 

Woodside: I have been with the Department since July 2, 2001 which means I am starting my 22nd year this month. 

You grew up in Weston, right? Did you attend Weston High School? What’s a favorite memory of growing up here? 

I did grow up in Weston on the North Side (Yay to those North Siders), and went to Weston schools. My parents, sister, and grandmother still live in Town.   Unfortunately, when I purchased a house of my own in 2006, I moved all the way to Wayland. 

Some of my best memories growing up here were riding a bike around town to various events before being able to drive, and middle and high school sports here.   The sports teams allow for so much personal growth and preparation for the future of our young adults. 

Wildcat senior photo, 1999

What did you do after high school?

I attended the University of New Haven for my freshman and sophomore years of college.  Following the summer of sophomore year, I was hired full-time by the Weston Fire Department.  I spent the next four years completing what would have been my junior and senior years of undergrad and graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s in Fire Science Administration.   In 2013 after a few years off from formal school, I began a Master in Public Administration program with Anna Maria College and graduated in 2015 with an MPA (Concentration in Fire & Rescue Services).  In 2017, I graduated from the UMass Collins Center for Public Government Chief Fire Officer Program, and have been credentialed as a Fire Chief in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission since 2018.

Best part of firefighting. Photo dated 2001.

What is the most difficult part of being a firefighter?

The most difficult part of being a firefighter is responding to any call for service involving small children, (motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, or fires)   All of us in the fire service have a small special place in our hearts for small children, and those calls regardless of the outcome are the hardest. 

How can residents of Weston best help make your jobs easier?  

The residents of Weston can make our job easier by reaching out to us for assistance– whatever that may be.  We are here to help, and not determine what is any type of emergency for the resident.   If someone is having plumbing troubles with running water, and they are unable to shut the water off, we will send someone out.  Please do not hesitate to call if the resident needs any type of help.   Know that when the experts panic, (e.g., Bio labs, research, and development) they call the fire department for service too.   

When are we getting a firehouse dog? We already discussed a gecko and a cat with Chief Soar, but let’s be honest…we need a dog. 

Unfortunately, a firehouse dog is kind of out of the question.  We cook too much food in our kitchen to have a “healthy” lifestyle for any pets here in the Fire Station. [Ed. I will never ever give up, just fyi. Ask Chief Soar.]

The Wes-TEN dubbed Chief Soar Captain America (link here). Who is your favorite superhero? 

Superman or Captain America. 

Anything I haven’t asked that you would like to add? 

I would like to say that the Town of Weston gave me a lot when I was growing up and going to school here.   I would like to be able to give back and make as much of an impact on the residents of this community as I had growing up here.   Our own award-winning Middle School Principal John Gibbons was my 6th grade English teacher, and now fellow Weston Men’s Hockey group member.    

I want to thank my wife Sarah, and children Jackson (8), Amelia (6), and Emerson (1) for putting up with me leaving in the middle of dinner or events and supporting me in this role.    

And finally, I am looking forward to continuing the great work that Chief Soar has done.

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Without question, this is a happy go ‘cats moment. Weston boy grows up to be Weston Fire Chief. It’s made for TV, folks. See you around, Chief-elect Woodside!

From a 2001 Town Crier article:

2 comments

  • Great news about Chief Wiodside!! The whole Day family here on North Ave congratules you, Justin. We know we are in good hands with you in charge.

  • So great that The Owl has shared this story with her readers. It makes us feel so much more connected with Chief elect Justin Woodside. Weston is lucky to have such a fine person at the helm

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