New Fire Chief at BIVFRD

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 5:30pm

The Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department has a new fire chief: Bain Transue.

After a Fire Department meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, the department posted the following message online:

“At our Jan. 11 meeting tonight, Kirk Littlefield handed over the reign of fire chief to Bain Transue. The Department would like to thank Kirk for his longtime service, especially this past year, and we are all proud to have Bain stepping into this role.”

The Block Island Times reached out to Kirk Littlefield and newly-elected Fire Chief Bain Transue to hear their thoughts on their dedication and service with the Fire Department as fire chiefs.

The following interviews were edited for clarity and length.

Newly-elected Fire Chief Bain Transue

Q: What made you interested in joining the BIVFRD and how long have you been serving with the department?

Bain Transue: As with many of us, the events on Sept. 11 changed the course of my life. Feeling the obligation to serve, in 2002 I joined the Fire Department and began the process of enlisting in the U.S. Army. Once returning to work and life on the island after my deployment to Afghanistan, then-Chief Kirk Littlefield reached out to me, and I rejoined the department in 2008 and have been actively serving since.

Q: How did the process of becoming the new fire chief come about?

BT: I became a lieutenant in 2015, and I was assistant chief for 2019 and 2020. I was fortunate to be sent to Fire Department Instructors Conference training in 2019 and take the Fire Fighter 1 class that finished last year. Captain Tristan Payne and others over the years have trained me well and supported me in my path to becoming our chief.

Q: What leadership and insight will you be bringing to the community as the new fire chief?

BT: Due to my experiences as a paratrooper and a career in construction, training and safety have long been the focus for me at the department. We have recently formed a great relationship with the State Fire Academy in Exeter, R.I. and graduated three members in the last few years - all became lieutenants at our annual meeting this month and will continue to serve our community. While maintaining a good number of experienced and dedicated senior officers, I am happy to say that six of the new officers are 30 years of age or under and that we have recently lowered the age for a junior member to 14 to include more of the island youth in our organization. Having three sons of my own, I can only hope they grow up to serve our community and attend the academy as these young men are doing today.

BIT: Congratulations, and we look forward to having you as our new fire chief


Kirk Littlefield

Q: What made you interested in joining the BIVFRD and how long have you been serving with the department?

Kirk Littlefield: I joined when I was 16 years old, and have served 36 years on the BIVFRD. My parents were both on the Rescue Squad at the time and both have been past captains. The [BIVFRD] had started doing the [annual] steak fry I want to say when I was 12, but I was helping up there since then. 

Q: When did you first become the fire chief?

KL: I served as chief in 1999 until 2001; again in 2008 until 2011; and chief for 2020. I have done it three times now. The first time I became nominated was when the plane crashed into Sharky’s Restaurant.

Q: What are the biggest challenges of being fire chief?

KL: Keeping everything up to date, keeping the membership involved, and keeping everyone informed. We have a lot of members - not a lot of members that show up for practices, but do show up to the fires. You have the core group of guys that will put the water on the fire, but [for] everyone behind the scenes that you don’t see, we have to remember to thank them. The toughest thing is keeping all the equipment and trucks up to date – everything has a life expectancy on it now. The next big thing is getting a ladder truck and a new building in the foreseeable future.

Q: What memories jump out to you in your time with the BIVFD?

KL: I remember the first big fire I went to was at Ballard’s. I had just graduated high school, and I had turned 18 that summer when I served on the Fire Department.

Q: Will you continue to volunteer your time with the Fire Department?

KL: I’m on the Board of Directors now for the Fire Department. I’m not retiring, I’m still going to rescue calls because of my knowledge of the roads and where people live. It’s confusing for new people that don’t know the island, and for people that aren’t familiar with the island’s roads.

Q: Thank you for your years of dedication and commitment to the island community. Do you have any final thoughts or comments you would like to share to the community?

KL: It’s a great community effort, and I look forward to continuing with it.