Two days before Aberdeen Fire Department Chief Tom Hubbard’s retirement on Friday, June 10, he thanked the city, his staff, his peers throughout the county, and his family for all of their support during his tenure.
Hubbard, who has served the Aberdeen Fire Department since 1995, made the short speech he gave the Aberdeen City Council on Wednesday night, June 8. Before Hubbard spoke, with many Aberdeen firefighters in attendance, he received a thank you from Mayor Pete Schave and a plaque for his years of service.
“Every once in a while, you get city staff, or somebody that just sticks out,” Schave said. “Here at Aberdeen, I know we have a lot of city staff and department heads who go above and beyond all the time. But there’s one guy tonight, at least I have him for a couple more days, that I’d really like to express my gratitude for his years of service here, always reaching above and beyond the call of duty.”
Schave regretted he didn’t make a list of all of the “hats” that Hubbard has worn to help the city of Aberdeen throughout his tenure with AFD. Schave listed a few, which included overseeing emergency medical services, helping with emergency practices for catastrophes, overseeing AFD, and the Hoquiam Fire Department, and working on the Regional Fire Authority.
Hubbard has also spearheaded the local response to potential school shootings with the Aberdeen Police Department.
“It just goes on and on,” Schave said. “He never, ever, backed down from taking some of these things on. It’s just magnificent.”
Then Schave called Hubbard to the lectern that faced the City Council members’ desks inside the council chambers in City Hall. After a few brief words, Schave gave Hubbard his plaque, shook the fire chief’s hand, the crowd cheerfully applauded, and then Schave sat back down and listened as Hubbard spoke.
“First of all, thank you mayor and council, past councils, (former Aberdeen) Mayor Bill Simpson is the one who appointed me and is near and dear to my heart,” Hubbard said. “He and his wife (Colleen,) truly if you were to say ‘Who loves Aberdeen?’ It was the Simpsons.’ So, a heartfelt thank you to them.”
Hubbard then thanked the council again, and noted how the Aberdeen Fire Department could not do what it does without the council’s support. Hubbard then thanked his wife and his daughter.
“My wife, who is here tonight, I don’t know if she was in on this or not,” Hubbard said. “She truly has been supporting me through my whole career, and definitely through my career as chief (since 2012.)”
Hubbard then thanked Susie Johnson, administrative coordinator for the Aberdeen Fire Department.
“And as we call her, ‘the true chief,’” he said. “She’s also retiring at the end of this month. 34 years with the city of Aberdeen. There’s a lot of knowledge going out the door. I pale in comparison to what she knows. I could not have operated without her. So, we’ve had a lot of good times, a lot of hard times. I’ve taught her how to not embrace conflict, but at least say it’s ‘OK.” So I’ve achieved my purpose.”
Then, Hubbard thanked Hoquiam Police Department Chief Jeff Myers, Deputy Chief Joe Strong, Aberdeen Fire Department Assistant Chief Dave Golding, (former Grays Harbor Fire District 2) Chief Leonard Johnson, Hannah Cleverly — Deputy Director of Emergency Management for Grays Harbor County, and Hoquiam Fire Department Chief Matt Miller.
“I could not have done what I’ve done without their network, without their support, their ‘What do I do now?’ then calling me and me calling them,” he said. “Truly (it’s) a network of support.”
Golding was approved as Aberdeen’s interim fire chief.
Hubbard then championed the professionalism of the emergency services group within Grays Harbor County.
“No other state, no other county, no other region, has anything on the professionalism that this group has,” Hubbard said. “You are blessed to have this group. Whether we are retired or not, we will continue to give to this community because we truly care. So, I want to thank them for all being here.”
Then Hubbard thanked the fire department staffs in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, where he served as interim chief from October 2018 until Miller was appointed chief on Monday, May 9.
“But I’m focusing on Aberdeen,” he said. “Day in and day out, they exceed my expectations. They are an amazing group of people, and they deserve a round of applause as well.”
Hubbard recalled when he became Aberdeen Fire Chief that he wanted his staff to be “master craftsmen,” at what they do, whether it be fire, EMS, or rescue.
“They have exceeded my expectations,” said Hubbard. “I am just honored to have been considered their chief. They made it easy, going back to my previous life where I worked on ships. The job as a ship’s captain is to keep the ship on course with gentle course corrections. I did the same thing with the fire department. They kept the ship moving forward, and I would just do gentle course corrections.”
Hubbard called his staff an “amazing group of people,”
“Support them, support Aberdeen, support Hoquiam, in all that they do,” he said. “Because they are out there working really hard for you.”
Aberdeen City Council President Kati Kachman — who serves Ward 3, Position 6 — then gave Hubbard a “huge” thank you, on behalf of the council.
Then Ward 4, Position 8 council member Deborah Ross noted the work she’s done with Hubbard through the years.
“I’ve worked rather closely through the whole (regional fire authority) process and he is an amazing leader,” Ross said. “I just appreciate so much everything you did. Thank you.”
Then Aberdeen firefighter Wayne Fournier, who was standing in the back of the chambers, read the words on the wooden plaque with gold letters.
“Congratulations on your retirement Thomas “Tom” Hubbard, June 10th, 2022, in sincere gratitude for the compassion, guidance, and outstanding leadership you’ve provided to all of us with your 27 years of service to the City of Aberdeen,” Fournier read to those in attendance.
Ward 6, Position 12, Dee Anne Shaw closed the ceremony for Hubbard with a sincere thank you.
“I’m a little choked up,” she said. “But I think that we all just saw is how well served we’ve been for years. This council does need to rise to the challenge that’s been put before us. Thank you Chief Hubbard. I will treasure always the trust that I’ve had in you, and the time you gave me whenever I needed to talk. Just, thank you.”
Johnson, who’s worked with Hubbard for the past 20 years, described to The Daily World on Thursday, June 9, Hubbard’s demeanor as chief.
“He’s the best boss I’ve ever had,” she said. “He’s very dedicated to his job, (and to) his people. He puts in a ton of time. He’s very well respected in the department. He’s just made coming to work fun every day with his daily humor.”