The Fire That Changed Everything - And What is Being Done

On Dec. 17, 2005, my department in Barre City, VT, responded to the worst fatal fire in our history. At a few minutes before 6 a.m., we were dispatched to a fire in a two-story wood-frame apartment building. The initial report was that there were people...



The Barre City Fire Department is a career department located in Central Vermont. The staff consists of 17 full-time staff and an equal number of call force members, with an average call volume around 2,500 fire and EMS calls per year. Working out of one station, they shift strength is three to four. At the time of this fire, there were three firefighters on duty.

Russel Ashe, a deputy chief with Barre City, VT, Fire Department, began his career with the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department in 1991. He appointed to the City of Barre Fire Department in September 2000 by then Chief Doug Brent. In 2005, he was promoted to lieutenant, and in May of 2007, was promoted again to Deputy Chief of Fire Operations. While with the City of Barre Fire Department, he has helped to secure over $800,000.00 for the department through several state and federal grants. In 2004, he started a very successful Cadet Program which continues today.

Matthew Cetin is a career firefighter/EMT-I with the Barre City Fire Department. A five-year career firefighter, he served the first two with the Burlington Fire Department. Prior to his becoming a career firefighter, Matthew served seven years active duty in the United States Coast Guard with his last duty station being the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Marblehead, OH. While serving with the Coast Guard, Matthew had the opportunity to volunteer with theMarblehead Fire Department and the Ballville Fire Department.