Farewell, Capt. Landry

Laconia firefighter honored for decades of service as he retires


LACONIA — "A firefighter's firefighter," said Capt. Chris Shipp. "An icon," added Lt. Chad Vaillancourt. "An icon," echoed Deputy Chief Shawn Riley. "This fire department is what it is today because of this man," declared Fire Chief Ken Erickson.

These tributes and more were showered on Capt. Bob Landry Thursday, his last after 31 years in the fire service, the past 27 of them with the Laconia Fire Department, where, as Shipp said, "He earned the friendship and respect of every man and woman in the department."

Deputy Chief Kirk Beattie said Landry's "dedication to the Fire Department, the city and the surrounding communities is second to none."

Two firefighters from Platoon Number 1, Firefighter Rick Hewlett and Lt. Dave French presented Landry mementos of his tenure, a plaque commemorating his lengthy and exemplary service, and photographs – one of his colleagues and another taken at a fire.

"I'm not much for making speeches," Landry remarked, adding "I just loved doing my job. I love these guys," he continued, casting his eyes around the room. "The respect and support they've given me has made it easy to do my job."

Erickson recalled when he joined the department 15 years ago.

"It was not a fun place. I wouldn't have lasted two months," he said, draping an arm on Landry's shoulder, his voice choking with emotion, "without this guy."

"Somebody had to train you," Landry quipped.

"I owe you my deepest, deepest gratitude," Erickson said.

Calling Landry "the last of a breed," Erickson recalled that he was blown out of an attic, fell down a flight of basement stairs, tore his bicep hauling hose and used three air packs fighting a fire, "but he would never give up. He just never gave up."

Landry enjoyed his work, as a photograph of him leaving a fire sweaty, sooty and smiling attests. He said he liked crawling through a burning building full of smoke on his hands and knees more than "standing around and throwing water on it." But, he said that as synthetics have displaced natural materials in home furnishings, fires burn hotter and quicker, leaving firefighters little time inside a building afire.

Known for answering the call to virtually every fire, Landry was in California when an apartment building on High Street caught fire on an April evening in 2012. Sensing he would be disappointed, several firefighters at the scene called to tell him he was missing a fire.

Landry said he has no specific plans for his retirement apart from "some deer hunting, maybe some hiking and spending more time with my grandchild." However, he added that after a while he may look for work outdoors, perhaps as a ski instructor.

Landry's career in the fire service was to end this morning at 0700 hours, unless an alarm was sounded earlier, for he would not fail to answer his last call.

07-29 Landry retires

Lt. Dave French, on behalf of Platoon Number 1, presents Capt. Bob Landry with mementos of his service to the Laconia Fire Department, which ended this morning after 27 years. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

A special thank you

Police and firefighters honored by children in summer school program in Belmont


BELMONT — It was a special day for police and firefighters in the Belmont area Thursday as children from the summer school program treated them to songs, pizza and special banners made for them.

After a blessing by Father Rick of the St. Joseph Parish, first responders joined with children aged 4 to 10 and helped them color and engaged them in discussion.

Although he couldn't stay long, Belmont K-9 Vito visited with his handler Evan Boulanger just long enough to say hello. Vito and Boulanger told the children that Belmont's National Night Out will be on Mill Street on Aug. 2 and they were all invited.

Belmont Elementary School Principal Sheila Arnold said there are about 60 children in the summer school program from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade.

She said the students had about a week to work on their posters and letters and the thing they wanted the first responders to know was "We like them."

Lt. Rich Mann said the Belmont Police already have a significant presence in the school. There are two school resource officers, one of whom is full-time and the second of whom works 30 hours a week. He said officers also frequently visit all the schools and read to the younger ones.

"It's fun for us and fun for them," said Mann.

As for the celebration, he said he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for them and the town's firefighters.

"These kids gave up a day of their summer to do this for us," he said.

Belmont police and firefighters were also joined by police from Gilford, Gilmanton and Canterbury.

"This is so wonderful," said Gilford Detective Denise Parker. "Any interaction we can have with a child is good. And the earlier we meet them, the better. This means a lot to us."

The Belmont Police Department will display a poster made by the children in the department that says, "Not all heroes wear capes."

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Children from the Belmont area shared pizza and conversation Thursday as the summer school program thanked first responders for their service. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

07-29 First responders party 2

Children sang "Ten Little Firefighters" at the lunch honoring first responders. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

07-29 first responders party 3

Laconia burn dump project is on time and under budget


LACONIA — Work to address contamination remaining from an abandoned, filled-over burn dump off Frank Bean Road and Morin Road is expected to be completed by the close of the construction season at $100,000 less than the budgeted cost of $1.2 million, City Manager Scott Myers said Thursday.

The dump, which operated in the 1940s and 1950s, is part of a site that sprawls over 75 acres on either side of Frank Bean Road, which also includes an abandoned landfill owned by the city. The burn dump itself extends over four lots totaling about 3.5 acres. Three of the lots abut one another on the west side of Frank Bean Road and the fourth is bordered by Frank Bean Road to the west and Morin Road to the east. Altogether, the dump stretches along Frank Bean Road for about 1,000 feet and is 250 feet at its widest point. The dump was between 15 and 20 feet deep. Assuming dimensions of 1,000 feet by 200 feet by 15 feet, the area is estimated to contain approximately 110,000 cubic yards of "burn dump material."
The site first drew from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in May 2003 while excavating for a foundation, and in 2011, after several rounds of sampling and monitoring, the agency directed the city to take remedial measures. Originally, the city planned to excavate contaminated soils on the four lots and dispose of the material off site, then backfill, cap or pave the lots at an estimated cost of $1.4 million. Ongoing monitoring of groundwater and maintenance of pavement at the site for another 15 years was expected to raise the total cost to about $1.7 million.
However, the city proposed and the Department of Environmental Services approved an alternative plan to purchase the four lots, demolish the buildings and cap the land with 2 feet of clean soil, sparing itself from excavating and disposing of contaminated soil, which represented the lion's share of the cost of the original proposal.
Myers said that the city borrowed $1.2 million for the project, of which $304,000 was spent acquiring three of the four lots and $271,000 spent for professional and engineering services to prepare the bid for the work, leaving a balance of $625,000. The low bid was about $420,000, plus another $65,000 for overseeing the project, $10,000 for water sampling and $30,000 in unforeseen costs beyond the scope of the bid. Altogether $1.1 million has been expended or encumbered.
Myers said that he does not anticipate any further significant costs since most of the remainder of the work consists of trucking clean fill and capping the site.