“He has got them a lot of new equipment over the past three years,” Nikas said, noting a new fire truck and radio equipment.
“He has served Ipswich well through each rank,” Nikas said. “He started as a firefighter and earned his way up through the ranks. And that is a difficult thing to do.”
Smith has also been a strong advocate for a new combined police and fire station on Elm Street. Selectmen rejected a request to ask Town Meeting for $100,000 to study the proposal forward.
There is a huge need for a new station, Smith said.
“I am sad that I am leaving with that project undone,” he said. “There is a true, true need.”
One of the highlights of his time as chief was getting the department’s new fire engine approved at Town Meeting, he said.
“It was being pushed off, pushed off and in my first year as chief I was able to get it on the Town Meeting warrant,” he said. “It passed almost unanimously. That was overwhelming for me that it was so strongly supported.”
More touching was the opportunity to dedicate the truck to retired fire lieutenant and former Chief Willard “Will” Maker Jr., who died unexpectedly on Father’s Day 2011.
“He was a good friend,” Smith said. “Even after he retired we would meet up for coffee.”
He said he will miss the people he’s worked with over the years the most as he enters into retirement.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends and acquaintances along the way,” he said. “The departments in town work well together.”
He said he is looking forward to spending more time with family and maybe get back into fishing.
”I haven’t been fishing in three years,” he said.
Smith said he was disappointed to be laid off in Lawrence in 1992. But it all worked out in the end, he said.