We lost a big man with a heart and smile to match when North Franklin Fire District No. 4's chief was killed this week.
Those lucky enough to be acquainted with Chet Bauermeister can take some comfort in knowing he left this world doing what he loved: fighting fire.
As long as most folks in the Basin City area can remember, there's been a Bauermeister fighting fires. Chet was the second generation of his family to lead the district, taking over for his father in 2003.
Everything about firefighting intrigued him. He was implementing new training for his firefighters and updating the standards of the department. He received high praise from his peers and colleagues.
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Bauermeister, 46, had a ready smile and a passion for helping others. If there was an emergency, he was there, as a firefighter, an EMT, a friend.
Beyond firefighting, Bauermeister loved many things: his family, friends, whitewater rafting, tinkering with equipment. He went to Connell High School, and just about everyone in north Franklin County knew him.
His presence will be greatly missed in Basin City, where he was a fixture and where his beloved fire trucks were stored in the fire hall. He enjoyed driving a fire truck in the annual Fourth of July parade and would make sure to spray his friends with water, smiling all the way.
Bauermeister was a man who truly put service above self, and he left his community a better place. It's just too bad he had to leave it so soon.