Fire Academy grad is Hamilton's oldest full-time firefighter


Staff write

HAMILTON - Skip Mullin's mother always knew where to find her boy when he didn't come home for dinner. She called the Hopkinton firehouse -- Mullin's hangout from the time he was a boy until he left for college.

"For a 10-year-old kid, a fire truck is all you need," said Mullin, now of Hamilton. "Then I got to know the firemen. These guys would be there for everything and everyone and that impressed me."

On Friday, at nearly 57 years old, Mullin finally achieved his childhood dream and graduated from the Massachusetts Fire Academy. He was the oldest student in his graduating class, and is the oldest full-time firefighter in the history of the Hamilton Fire Department.

The department is glad to have him

"Some cities and towns won't hire anyone over 35 years old," said Hamilton Fire Chief Phil Stevens. "But Skip is in better shape than some of the guys in their 20s."

Mullin joined Hamilton's 32-member on-call firefighting team four years ago. Two years later, he left behind a 17-year career teaching math at The Pingree School. A trained emergency medical technician, he started working full-time for Lyons Ambulance Service. Last year he attended a medical training session at the Hamilton Fire Department, and so impressed his colleagues he was invited to become one of four full-time firefighters this spring.

But he still hasn't handed in his on-call pager.

"Getting up at 1 a.m. to help somebody is a wonderful thing," Mullin said. "For me, it comes down to the fact that these people have an immediate need. They need to be helped right now. I think responding to that and doing what you can for someone in that situation, it's a noble profession."

The 11-week training course at the academy was physically demanding. Former Wenham Fire Chief Don Killam said the course is infamously arduous. The 40 members of Mullin's graduating class performed heavy physical labor early each morning, followed by classroom study and drills in the afternoon.

Mullin said graduation was an accomplishment, but acknowledged that he exercises and takes good care of himself. In his last five years at Pingree, he lead wintertime mountain expeditions in New Hampshire. He once led a group of students to the summit of the White Mountains in January.

Since becoming a full-time fireman, Mullin has taken up his old habit of hanging around the firehouse.

"You can't send him home," Stevens said. "He'd work here around the clock if you let him."

Mullin said Hamilton, where he has lived since the 1980s, has become as close to his heart as his hometown.

"They're both home to me," Mullin said. "I wouldn't have been a full time firefighter in any other town than Hamilton."