James "Jim" E. Tompkins                                             Past Chief, Safety Officer, Firefighter, EMT, Driver

                                                              James "Jim" E. Tompkins
                                        Past Chief, Safety Officer, Firefighter, EMT, Driver


What is your name? 
Jim Tompkins

Current position in Chelsea FD? 
Past Chief, Safety Officer, Firefighter, EMT, Driver

How long have you been in the fire service?
Joined July 1986, 31 years ago 

Why did you join the Fire service?  
My parents were both in involved, Dad held Chief and Commissioner, Mom was Captain. The firehouse was one of the few things to do in the area.

Did you have certain expectations of what it might be like to belong to a Fire department prior to joining? 
I was around the firehouse all my life so I knew what was involved.

Were your expectations met? what was different than you expected? 
Over time expectations were met, exceeded, changed and new ones made.

What are your goals within Chelsea FD? 
My goals are to serve as long as I can and pass on knowledge to others as they join, but to also keep learning. I have rose through the ranks of Lieutenant to Captain to Assistant Chief and was Acting-Chief for 6 months. I have seen many come and many go, some for good reasons and unfortunately some for bad. I have stuck around and have been one of the most active members year after year since I joined; even during years where I had surgeries and had to take several months off, I still finished on top.

The fire district started the LOSAP "Length of Service Awards program" in the early 90’s so all my time in the fire service has been accumulating an extra retirement check that I will someday enjoy. This was an added bonus, I am happy to look forward too. This is not why I joined or remained active, just a perk to look forward too.

How has being a member of Chelsea FD affected your home/family life? 
Being a member that has been extremely active has taken me away from the house a lot. It’s affected the way I am involved in relationships and definitely affected the life I lead today. I have gained knowledge and I have succeeded because of my dedication; and will to get the job done. I have adapted my life around the fire service and made the fire service my life.

What is your Primary occupation?
My regular job is working for Dutchess County in a clerical position. Part of my job is helping protect the citizens of Dutchess County by working on supporting data and systems that run the 911 system. I work with assigning new addresses for existing and new structures. I am also involved in reviewing all new road names in the county to make sure that there are no duplicates in the area. I work closely with phone companies and post offices to help assure they have accurate data.

Why do you volunteer? 
I volunteer because I like it, it’s challenging. You get to use your skills and experience to help make a difference in people’s lives. Knowing that you tried or made a positive outcome to someone’s bad day is worth more than any paycheck. 
It does take you away from your family, home chores, work or just your free time but although it is volunteer, there is a job that needs to be done that cannot be done alone, so you depend on your fellow volunteers to show up, it takes teamwork to be successful.

What is one thing that you would like to tell a potential new member? 
If you want to join the fire service, be prepared to learn not just how to be a good firefighter but to be part of a team. The work can be hard physically and emotionally, you have to want to learn and be part of the team. You will have fun and will make new friends. You will learn a lot about your community. You will learn to look at situations in different ways, because the regular way may not be possible. You will get to do things that others wish they could do. You will experience rough situations and learn how to deal with them, but know others will be there to help you get through it. Most importantly, you will learn teamwork and perhaps leadership.

So do you have what it takes? Please give it a try you may like it, you won’t know if you never try.