Anthony Burns sworn in as Mason’s first full-time fire chief

  • Town Clerk Debra Morrison swears in Mason's first full-time fire chief, Anthony Burns, during the Dec. 28 Select Board meeting. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Town Clerk Debra Morrison swears in Mason's first full-time fire chief, Anthony Burns, during the Dec. 28 Select Board meeting. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Town Clerk Debra Morrison swears in Mason's first full-time fire chief, Anthony Burns, during the Dec. 28 Select Board meeting. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Anthony Burns fills out paperwork with Town Clerk Debra Morrison during his swearing-in as Mason's first full-time fire chief Dec. 28. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/29/2021 12:25:19 PM
Modified: 12/29/2021 12:24:51 PM

A former fire chief from Georgia has joined the Mason Fire Department as its new fire chief – the first to take up the full-time position created during last March’s Town Meeting.

Anthony Burns was sworn in during the Mason Select Board meeting Tuesday, after having been with the department for a few months as assistant chief to outgoing Chief Flip Phalon to learn the department and about the town before officially taking on the reins.

Phalon was instrumental in installing a full-time position at the fire department after taking on the role of chief in January of 2021. He requested the town budget for a full-time position in the department – asking at the time that the full-time role be the assistant chief, with plans that he would retire at the end of the year and the assistant chief would become a full-time chief. In advocating for at least one full-time position in the department, he cited flagging numbers and a need for a dedicated employee to bolster the department and focus on recruitment and training, which has been a constant struggle for small, volunteer departments.

At the time, Phalon said he knew he would be looking outside of the community for a candidate, as no one on the volunteer department was interested in a full-time position. Burns was that outside candidate.

In 2021, the town approved a budget with $55,000 for a full-time assistant chief. Select Board Chair Pete McGinnity said the town intends to request a $65,000 salary in the fire department budget for the coming year for the chief’s salary. The board has also offered Burns the opportunity to roll the town’s emergency management director position into the fire chief’s position, at a higher rate of pay, starting this spring.

Burns was born and raised in New York, where he got his first taste of firefighting in a volunteer department in 1994.

“It’s kind of funny, my grandfather was a firefighter, my dad was a firefighter, and it was the only thing that really fit,” Burns said Tuesday. “I was in college for public justice, and spent more time at the EMS bay and fire station than at the college. It just fit.”

Seventeen years ago, he moved to Hinesville, Ga., to take a job with the Hinesville Fire Department, starting his professional firefighting career. He also served four years in the International Paper Fire Department, and as a fire science department head at Savannah Technical College in Georgia.

His most-recent role was as chief of the Walthourville Fire Department in Georgia, a town of just under 5,000 people.

“I love everything about it. Being in control of chaos, when everyone’s losing their head,” Burns said. “And being there for people is what my family has always done. It’s just something that we do.”

Burns said he recently completed a bachelor’s degree in public administration, with a focus in emergency management, and began looking for new opportunities in the fire service closer to his son and grandchildren, who live in New York. He applied for multiple positions in the Northeast, including in Mason.

“It was very similar from the department I was leaving, and there was a lot more to build here,” Burns said about why Mason was his ultimate choice. “A big factor in which one I took was that the job had to be right and the location had to be right. And Mason fit those criteria.”

Burns said he has a solid foundation in the department, which has 28 members, who are all fairly active and engaged in the service. He said he plans to provide more opportunities for training, and to  hopefully grow a command structure that will lead to any of the firefighters in the service having the opportunity to replace him when he eventually retires, if they want to pursue it.

Outside of the fire service, Burns has a side business with his wife, Linda, doing engraving under the name Red Line Industries, and exploring the landscapes of New Hampshire with his wife for her photography hobby.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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