Late fire chief honored with station dedication

Late fire chief honored with station dedication

Fire Station 1 has been renamed in honor of former Fire Chief John F. Greene, who died in 2012.

BLACKSTONE – Fire Station 1 on St. Paul Street will now be known as the Chief John F. Greene Fire Station after the building was formally renamed in honor of the late chief on Tuesday.

Greene, who died in 2012, served as chief of the Blackstone Fire Department from 1964 until his retirement in 1992. A native of Woonsocket, he was a well-known face around Blackstone and northern Rhode Island and volunteered with many organizations, including the Crippled Children and Adults of Rhode Island and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

In September, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to name the station after Greene. According to board Chairman Daniel Keefe, a previous board had actually voted to rename the station upon Greene’s retirement in 1992 but never followed through on the action due to disagreements between Greene and some town officials. Upon learning of the previous vote last fall, he said, the current board was eager to honor the former chief.

“We revisited that and decided unanimously to take that vote again and name it after him,” he said.

The dedication ceremony, set for St. Patrick’s Day, was originally supposed to feature a full ceremony followed by a corned beef and cabbage reception at the Polish American Citizens Club. Due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, the town was forced to postpone the reception to a later date.

The dedication, however, still went on with a small group of immediate family members. According to Keefe, officials were determined to honor Greene’s Irish heritage. A proud Irishman by descent, Greene had retired from a job with the New England Telephone Company on St. Patrick’s Day and was the founder of Division 17 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America.

“If you knew the whole story behind Chief Greene, it has to be done on St. Patrick’s Day,” he said. “There was Christ’s birth, and then there’s St. Patrick’s Day. And it’s still neck and neck, I don’t know which one is on top.”

In addition to serving as fire chief, Greene was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served as an aerial gunner during World War II. He was a member of the International Fire Chiefs Association, the New England Fire Chiefs Association and the Northern Rhode Island Firemens League. He was chairman and founder of the Greater Woonsocket Mutual Aid Chiefs Association.

Greene was the husband of Eileen Greene, who died last October.