When Fire Chief Paul J. Zbikowski leaves the Berlin Fire & EMS Department at the end of his workday at 5 p.m. Friday, it will mark the end of a 41-year career in the fire service.

Chief Zbikowski served as Berlin’s Fire Chief for more than three years after serving as Fire Chief in Ashburnham for 21 years.

As an experienced and well-known leader in the fire service, Chief Zbikowski was brought in during a time of tremendous change in the Berlin fire service, and he successfully combined the formally separate fire and rescue services agencies together into one Fire and EMS Department.

He also oversaw the acquisition of a new ladder truck, new ambulance and utility task vehicle for the agency and hired Berlin’s first full-time firefighter/EMTs. Chief Zbikowski  also created a leadership succession plan to ensure that as chiefs and members of the command staff ascend or retire, operations continue smoothly.

“I am extremely proud of the work being done in Berlin, and am proud to have worked with such a dedicated and caring group of fire officers and personnel,” Chief Zbikowski  said. “I have had a long career, and I am going to dedicate a significant amount of my new free time to my 4-year-old granddaughter.”

Berlin Fire Captain and 10-year veteran James Concannon has been elevated to interim fire chief and a process will be announced shortly to select a new permanent chief.

“I was lucky to have worked with Paul for the past few years,” Berlin Police Chief Thomas Galvin. “We were able to work together as a public safety team as the community and our departments worked through years of constant change.  Paul is a mentor and friend forever.”

Chief Zbikowski  joined the fire service as an Ashburnham call firefighter in 1978. he became chief of that department in 1993.

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