Adrenaline pumping and fire consuming the house on 300 block of Campbell Street, it was easy for Gary Baudoin to lose track of his training.
It’s a good thing his father was there that Christmas Night 1991. Larry Baudoin even switched shifts to work alongside his son. Gary said the two went through the front door and crawled toward the bedrooms away from the fire. They were empty. Larry grabbed his son and told him to watch how the fire moved as other firefighters subdued the flames.
“He was very calm, cool and collective,” Gary recalled about his father. “You can’t learn everything from one fire but from every incident you get a bit of information.”
“He treated me like a firefighter but he also treated me like a son.”
Gary said his first house fire was his fondest memory with the Hutchinson Fire Department. The captain retired on Friday, ending the Baudoin name being part of the HFD for the first time since 1969.
Gary was born in Franklin, Louisiana, but his family moved to Hutchinson when he was 3. Gary grew up around firefighters and saw the camaraderie and brotherhood the men had. When Gary graduated from Hutchinson High School in 1985, he would enroll at the Hutchinson Community College Fire Science. There was no hesitation.
“It was always my dream,” Gary said. “I just saw my dad happy about what he was doing … in his (26) years there never complained about going to work.”
Gary said his father told The News in a 1995 article about Larry’s retirement that he never planned on being a firefighter. There was an opening and he needed a job, Gary explained.
Larry was hired in 1969 and retired as a captain. He died in 2014.
Gary said he’s seen people succumb to the smoke from fires, but he’s also helped deliver two babies.
As a firefighter: “There’s nothing more for me to do.”
The 50-year-old was thankful for Training Chief Jesse Martin for helping him continue his training and for the HFD keeping traditions while at the same time being progressive. He also liked the department’s future under the newer leadership of fire chief Steve Beer.
"His ... passion for the job set an example of what good leaders can accomplish," Beer said. "He leads by example."
Gary’s immediate plans are to spend time with his large family, golf, cook more and catch up on work around the yard. He also doesn’t want to impede too much on his wife Patricia’s “free time.”
Gary plans to volunteer more with the Hutchinson Knights of Columbus Council 612 -- just like his father did after retirement.
While other family members work on the HFD or are in fire school, none bear the Baudoin name. But who knows, maybe Gary's 14-year-old son Drew will take up the family tradition.
“As of right now it doesn’t look like it will happen,” Gary said. “But you never know.”