Gloversville fire chief to retire

GLOVERSVILLE – After 27 years of service and working up the ranks to fire chief, Beth Whitman-Putnam announced at the Common Council meeting Tuesday she will retire at the end of June.

“The fire service has been my life for 27 years and I am profoundly grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead the Fire Department,” Whitman-Putnam, 46, said in an emotional announcement at the meeting. “My decision to retire does not come without considerable deliberation, but I have decided it is time.”

After the meeting, Whitman-Putnam said she has had some health issues related to her heart, but added other factors also had a role in her decision to retire. She would not elaborate on the reasons.

“It’s just time,” she said. “I’ve been with the city of Gloversville for my entire career. It’s my heart and soul.”

She said she has been dedicated to helping the department move forward over the years.

After the announcement, the Common Council, mayor and others gave Whitman-Putnam a standing ovation.

“We are going to miss you,” Mayor Dayton King told the chief. “Since I’ve appointed you, you’ve done a great job.”

Whitman-Putnam was appointed chief Jan. 1, 2011, becoming the state’s first female professional fire chief. She was appointed after the retirement of former Fire Chief Douglas Edwards.

The announcement caught many city officials by surprise, including the mayor and Police Chief Donald VanDeusen.

“I always figured she would be here longer than me,” VanDeusen said. “Beth has always been the ultimate professional in any dealings that I had with her, and she will be missed. I wish her and her family the best going forward.”

The mayor will appoint someone to the position upon Whitman-Putnam’s retirement. Whitman-Putnam said she hasn’t recommended anyone for the job.

“Beth has done a great job and I’m in no hurry to replace her at this point,” King said this morning. “She has some great staff with some battalion chiefs and captains that really do a great job day in and day out. At this time, I just really want to be there to support Beth and her family, and there is a lot of time to talk about that.”

He said he will talk with Whitman-Putnam and members of the Common Council about the issue of replacing Whitman-Putnam.

Whitman-Putnam has been an advocate for fire safety, particularly regarding children, and one of the driving forces behind the city’s acquisition of a new ladder truck. The truck is due to arrive before she leaves in June, she said.