A volunteer firefighter has decided to retire after serving the Montague community for half a century.
Harry Annear has been a member of the Montague Volunteer Fire Brigade for over 50 years. He was the brigade's fire chief for 25 years until he stepped down from that position in 2014 while staying on as a member.
This year, however, Annear has decided to hang up his uniform for good.
"I stayed on and I have a little bit of trouble with my knee, so I wasn't going to be very effective with them. So I decided I'd quit it, too," he said. "If I can't be any good to anybody, I may as well get out."
Annear said he never had to deal with anything too serious during most of his time on the brigade.
But there were still some challenging times, including a fire that happened around New Year's Eve about two decades ago. One of his firefighters died.
"On one fire, we had one of our members go down," he said. "[But] there was never too many bad times. We just had a few injuries."
'Natural-born leader,' current brigade chief says
On Friday, the fire brigade posted a tribute to Annear on its Facebook page, where he was commended for his "calm leadership."
"It was great working with Harry. He was probably a natural-born leader," said Danny Thomson, the brigade's current chief, who's worked with Annear for many years.
"He had the respect of all the firemen — a very cool and calm and level-headed fellow. He didn't get too excited about a major fire."
Thomson said Annear was "never the type to get too emotional." While he may have cracked a joke or two, he was always serious when he went out on the job.
"He was just a really big presence in the fire department for years.... Being in that long, the fire service certainly changed a lot in his time," Thomson said.
"I guess you'd say it's intimidating to take over from a man like Harry. You're always maybe hoping you're going to measure up the same."
Annear said he was tremendously moved by the fire brigade's tribute and that he'll "always keep" some of the memories he made during his time there.
As for retirement, he said it will take some time to get used to normal life.
"Well, I still have my own work now. It's just something to get used to," he said.
"You were prepared, even when you were going to bed, for a call during the night. Now I don't have to do anything like that. It's just life changes, that's all."