WEST STOCKHOLM, N.Y. (WWNY) - A veteran fire chief and mentor rushed to to a fire at a neighbor’s home and died Thursday. Now, people are remembering and paying tribute to West Stockholm Chief Robert White.
Mary Haught keeps scrolling through Facebook tributes. They just keep coming. They're for the man everyone around town knew as “Bob.”
“You know, he was a go-to person anyone could go to," said Haught, who owns a home at 414 Route 11B. "Very loving, caring. Help anybody. I was very devastated and heartbroken.”
She's devastated and heartbroken because West Stockholm Fire Chief Robert White died responding to a fire at her home. He lived just three doors down. He ran sports leagues her kids were in.
“He was concerned because there was children. He heard there was children that lived in the home. And that was his main concern to make sure no one was in the home,” said Haught.
Haught and her children were not home at the time of the fire. But White collapsed outside and was later pronounced dead at Canton-Potsdam hospital. Firefighters throughout the region are honoring his legacy.
“Bob has literally been the backbone of this organization for over 40 years. And he's made us what we are today,” said Torey Russell, West Stockholm second assistant fire chief.
White was a constant presence at fire scenes. He was chief at West Stockholm for 33 years in all. He was also a county fire coordinator and trainer.
“Literally if you were in the fire service for more than a year in this county, you would know who Bob White is,” said Russell.
County departments are posting their own tributes to Chief White. At West Stockholm, his turnout gear is laid out at the department's memorial bell.
Fire investigators continue to comb through clues about the fire - both about what happened in the tragic demise of West Stockholm Fire Chief Robert White, and with the fire itself.
Their findings are expected shortly. Funeral arrangements for Chief White can be seen here.