Remembering Shrewsbury Fire Chief Robert Gaucher
Shrewsbury – To those that knew him well – fellow members of the Shrewsbury Fire Department for the last 34 years – Robert Gaucher was an averaged-sized guy with a largerthan life presence around fire headquarters.
“I can’t get used to the fact that he’s not here when I come to work,” Fire Captain Bill Cummins said. “It’s strange going to work and not seeing him in the firehouse. He was a fixture there. It’s still a shock to us all.”
Gaucher, 63, died March 15 after being hospitalized for a few weeks after suff ering a minor stroke. He was a 34-year veteran of the department and was named chief 22 months ago.
“Bobby started on the job the week before I did,” Cummins said. “We were the new guys – him, me and three other guys – we all started at the same time.”
A lifelong resident of Shrewsbury just like Gaucher, Cummins knew of his co-worker before joining the department, but he really got to know the man in the more than three decades that they showed up at the same places to do the same work day after day.
“Bobby was just a good allaround guy,” Cummins said. “He was good firefighter absolutely, but he was just a nice guy. He had a way about him.”
In his 25 years as a captain, Gaucher was the department’s training office r an d inspector of properties. He was also the leader of the call firefighters and the incident commander in emergency situations. As a firefighter, Gaucher excelled in ice and confined-space rescue, vehicle extrication, hazardous materials response and fire-suppression techniques.
A graduate of Shrewsbury High School and Nichols and Anna Maria colleges, earning bachelor’s degrees in business administration and fire science, Gaucher was a devoted family man who Cummins said was always heading off to spend time with, or just coming back from spending time with his wife, Margaret, and daughters, Kelly and Erin.
“If Bobby wasn’t with us at work, he was somewhere with them,” Cummins said. “He was a dedicated, loyal family man above all else.”
Cummins explained that the nature of the job of firefighter means that you are constantly putting your safety in the hands of your co-workers, which is something Cummins said caused him and Gaucher to get very close over the years.
“I miss everything about Bobby,” Cummins said, “but what I miss most is his dry sense of humor and his quick oneliners. I think those two things about Bobby really caught guys by surprise.
“A few of us guys would be sitting in the captain’s offic e just talking about the day, going over everything that had happened,” Cummins said, “and Bobby would come in a drop a oneliner that was funny and that summed everything up.”
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