Assistant Fire Chief Gary Baker retired this month after 33 years with the Milford Fire Department.

Baker started his firefighting career here in 1986 after being honorably discharged from the United States Navy. After graduating from the fire academy, he served as a firefighter/EMT on Engine 1 out of headquarters until 1996.

“Gary was a very aggressive firefighter,” said Fire Chief Doug Edo, after staff had gathered Sept. 5 for cake in recognition of Baker’s retirement. “Always the first one in. He excelled at operating the Jaws of Life.”

Baker was promoted to lieutenant in 1996, and served as company officer of Engine Company 4 out of Devon. He was promoted to captain in 1999 and transferred to the headquarters division where he served with distinction as the department’s EMS/Safety/Hazmat officer for several years.

“He is known for the development of the Engine Company paramedic units, which at the time were the first and only such units in the State of Connecticut,” according to fire officials. “Chief Baker also held the position of Hazmat team leader and helped develop Milford’s Hazmat team into a valuable regional asset and key part of the New Haven Area Special Hazards Response Team.”

Baker transferred to Engine 1 where he served as company officer until he was promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief in 2008.

He was promoted to assistant chief of operations in 2013 and fire marshal in 2015.

“He was a member of the department's dive team, Haz Mat team, union secretary, member of the union executive board and holds a captain’s license for marine vessels,” said Fire Department Spokesman Anthony Fabrizi. “He was in charge of daily operations of the department including the three marine units.”

Baker is a recipient of a meritorious service award (2007), several unit citations, as well as the mayor’s extraordinary life saving award in 1997 for a dive accident rescue. He received the Milford Fire Department Medal of Valor, the department’s highest honor, in 2000, for his involvement in rescue efforts after a deadly construction accident at the Milford Power Co. in 2000.