Living the Dream: Hampton's new fire prevention officer said the job is what he's always wanted to do

by Kyle Stucker

Hampton-North Hampton Patch, July 18, 2011

Scott Steele took over as Hampton Fire Prevention Officer, his dream job, on June 30. [Photo by Kyle Stucker]

Scott Steele always believed if he wanted it badly enough, it would happen.

While he said "it took a little longer" than he wanted, Steele said it was unbelievably fulfilling to step into his office recently as Hampton's new fire prevention officer.

"Fire prevention was the field I knew I wanted be involved in at Day One of the academy," said Steele, 42, who took the reins from the retired John True on June 30. "Essentially being where I'm at is the end goal for me, so it's a good feeling to know that I had a vision in mind and I’ve made it. It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point."

Steele's journey to his dream started over a decade ago when he decided to leave his job with a manufacturing and production company in Massachusetts.

It was a decision he said he'll never regret, because soon after deciding a move to New Hampshire would bring better firefighting opportunities, Steele paid his way through the academy and latched on with Dover after graduation.

Steele spent six months in the Dover Fire Department before leaving for Hampton, were he has been for more than nine years along with his wife and son, who is now 16 years old.

Steele said he's loved living in Hampton. So far, he said he's also loved his new, "high-profile" job with the department -- a job that includes overseeing building and fireworks inspections, public and department education, and many other things.

All those duties can change in an instant, though, which is something Steele was introduced to on his first few days in the position.

Steele started the day before Fourth of July weekend, which is the busiest time of the year. He and others in the department spent the weekend dealing with a variety of calls, although it was the days after the fireworks that brought new meaning to the phrase "thrown into the fire."

Two separate fires on July 5 and July 6 essentially turned a busy weekend into a nonstop, extremely busy week, preventing the new fire prevention officer from easing into his new position.

Steele didn't sweat the tough initiation, though. In fact, he said he preferred it that way, as it better prepares him for the days ahead.

"It is quite a start, but the way I look at it is the faster I get going, I think in the end it’ll be easier," said Steele. "The more I put on my plate, and the more that's expected of me sooner gets me prepared for what I'll have to deal with for the whole time I'm here."

Steele said he's still getting situated as fire prevention officer, and while he doesn't know what the future holds for him, he said he does know that the job will continue to be a rewarding decision.

"It's been and will still be a big hill to climb, but I’m committed to it," said Steele. "I know ultimately when the dust settles, I'll be successful. I'm looking forward to the challenge."