Celebrating pg 1 9-22-22

a job well
Mr. Perron
By Linda Lemmon
Town Crier Editor
PUTNAM — In the firefighter world, where the tie that binds is life and death, the handshakes turned into hugs at the retirement celebration for fire marshal Normand Perron.
More than 130 people came to celebrate Perron at a retirement event Sept. 16. Celebration organizer Deputy Fire Marshal Scott Belleville said police, fire, friends, family, and politicians from all around the northeastern corner came to say “job well done” to Perron. He received well wishes and plaques and a state citation. Belleville said “He earned it after more than 37 years.”
The program for the event noted that he investigated more than 300 structure fires, did more than 5,000 National Fire Incident Reporting System incident reports, countless inspections and more than 60,000 hours worked.
Perron said he was always interested in the cause and origin of fires as a Putnam Fire Department firefighter. He was officially recommended by the mayor and Board of Selectmen in September, 1984, and graduated from the program in December, 1984. He said he served as deputy fire marshal for the first few years and then was named fire marshal in 1987.
While cause and origin of fires is intriguing Perron found that the biggest part of the job “my sole purpose, my primary job” he said was inspecting multi-family dwellings. He said there are 3,000 multifamily units in Putnam. Most challenging are the code compliance and inspections of buildings owned by out-of-town landlords. The law requires making sure smoke detectors are OK. This is monthly. “It’s not unusual that the smoke detectors are not there or don’t have a battery,” he said.
With the code and inspection requirements, Perron asked to add two more part-time fire marshals and Bob Beaudry and Rick Hayes were appointed. They knocked down a good number of inspections and Perron credits that push with knocking down the number of structure fires.
Perron said with pride that the biggest change he has seen in his 37-plus years as fire marshal is the decrease in the number of structure fires. He attributes this to an increase in the number of inspections.
Despite that, Perron called the number of required inspections, especially multi-family inspections, the most frustrating part of the job.
Perron is especially proud of this: “An attorney general (at a recertification program) said “when, not if, you go to court …” Perron, in 38 years, never had to go to court.
The saddest event was the death of two small children in a fire at a multi-family on Prospect Street years ago. He said fire chief Bob Campbell got there first and found the mother on her knees on the lawn, crying “you gotta get my babies.” Campbell ran in to try to get to the children on the third floor. Perron said he got there shortly after Campbell ran in, and kept calling and calling Campbell. Finally Campbell came out, unable to get to the children. That cause of the fire was undetermined, probably electrical. “That was a tragedy.”


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