By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, January 7, 2011
[Elizabeth Dinan photo]
HAMPTON -- After three decades helping protect the town, Capt. Dave Lang is retiring from the Hampton Fire Department. But while he is hanging up his fire hat on Jan. 31, don't expect him to sit back and relax.
He plans to continue being a faithful advocate for his fellow firefighters and is toying with running for political office in the future.
"It's time," said Lang. "I've spent the last 30 years in the fire service and it's just time for me to go. It was a good run."
Lang said he's going to miss the job but will still be able to hang with the guys he loves because he plans to continue to serve as the president of the New Hampshire Professional Firefighters union.
Lang will be retiring with the rank of captain, a post he has held at the department for the last four years.
He worked his way up the ladder from an on-call firefighter, to EMT, and then to lieutenant.
And through the majority of those years he served in a leadership role in firefighter unions, including spending 16 years as president of the local firefighters union.
Lang said he started with the department as an on-call firefighter in December 1979.
He was made permanent firefighter the next year by then Fire Chief Howard Stickney.
Lang recalls that he was working as a chef when he received the phone call from the chief to come to his office to talk about his high score of the fire exam.
"I called my wife and told her 'I think they are going to offer me a full-time job,'" Lang said. "She asked me what I was going to do and I told her 'I don't think I'm going to do it. I don't think it's for me.' I went down and met with him and he offered me the job and I said 'I'll take it. When do I start?"
Looking back, Lang said deep down he knew he was going to take the job.
"I think I knew this is what I was made for," he said.
Lang said he's seen a lot over the years, including two of the worst fires in recent times in Hampton, the Old Salt fire in 1999 and the A Street Block fire in 2009.
"Every day was different," he said. "You never went on the same call twice."
But Lang is looking forward to the future and more importantly spending more time with his family.
"I am grateful that my wife and two daughters supported me while I followed my dream of being a firefighter and a union leader," he said. "Too many times in the fire service the public does not fully appreciate the shared sacrifices made by the family of a firefighter."
When asked to comment on rumors he will be running for selectman, Lang chuckled.
"This town is great isn't it," he said.
"But I will say this. I served the town for 30 years protecting the taxpayers and working hard in responding to their emergencies. I care about this community. If there is a role in the future in which I can give back and give some more to the community, I will be more than happy to do that. There is no doubt if anyone who knows me, knows that I'm very community oriented and I care about the town of Hampton."