Sidney Fire Department lowered its flag to half-mast as a mark of respect towards former Chief Mel Baldwin, who died June 21.
The 83-year-old joined the department in 1951 and retired in 1997, 46 years later. Baldwin became the Chief in 1976 and was the oldest living retired member of the service.
“Mel was a legend and an icon in our fire department,” says Sidney Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen, “He was well known in the town and was a respected elder statesman who commanded respect.”
Baldwin is described as being quietly assertive and reserved, but with great presence. He kept a keen eye on the fire department and although he officially retired in 1997 was a familiar face around the fire house for some time after that. When he joined the department, Sidney was a very different town, with tanning, a fish plant and farm houses.
“I think he was proud to see the fire department evolve to match the risks and profile of the changing town,” says Mikkelsen, noting, “He was a progressive individual. He liked to see meaningful and positive change.”
In a written statement, the Town of Sidney wrote, “Mel will be remembered fondly and will be deeply missed by all those who knew him and served with him. In remembrance of former Fire Chief Baldwin, the flag at the Community Safety Building will be flown at half-mast for the remainder of the week.”
Baldwin’s family are still organizing funerary arrangements but they will be announced soon. Baldwin is survived by his wife Greet.