It is with a heavy heart that the Great Barrington Fire Department announces the passing of retired Fire Chief Harry Jennings.
In a social media post the south county department celebrated Harry Jennings after he succumbed to a long 10 year battle with cancer. Chief Jennings was officially Chief of the department from 2001 until 2012, although he was considered a leader for much longer than that.
According to the post, Jennings was about as progressive as they come in regard to the fire service, having a large part in the building of the State Road station using his knowledge to anticipate both was the present and future needs of the department and putting that into the design and construction. Harry was determined to make sure that the station was going to serve the town for well over the next 100 years.
"The best way to sum up Harry’s commitment to the department was best described at a town meeting by a citizen “If Harry says we need it, God Damn it, we need it – there should not be a question.” This lady spoke the truth on many levels – how Harry was the one always there when needed (often times the first one there and by himself until the rest of us arrived), and how Harry always put the needs and safety of his firefighters above all. Harry was always advocating for the best training for Berkshire County, building a solid fire prevention program, and developing the next generation of firefighters."
Great Barrington Fire Department Facebook Page
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Born in 1948 Harry joined the Housatonic Fire Department in 1974, working under the leadership of his father-in-law Paul Bauman. As with everything that Harry did, he put his heart and soul into the job rising through the ranks becoming Deputy Chief in 1993, taking on the command of the Housatonic station. As the first firefighter from Housatonic to be the chief of the Great Barrington Fire Department, Chief Jennings was a phenomenal Incident Commander with natural instinct that somehow always seemed to see into the future.
"Harry wore is heart on his sleeve, not only was he our chief, he was our friend too, that was because this man – so tough on the outside – loved each and every one of his firefighters.
The town lost a true hero who gave more than many will ever know to the townspeople of Great Barrington. Harry left this world knowing that his time here was done, he had fulfilled all that he was put here to do, and he had trained and left behind a team of professionals to carry his legacy forward without waiver. It is now that 53 is 10-8.
Chief – may God bless you and may you look over all of us with pride and protection to keep us safe.
Harry was one of a kind – and thank God for that, we are not sure that the town could handle more than one Harry."

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