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CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — A large crowd of firefighters and family members gathered at Chesterfield’s Central Fire Station Saturday afternoon to celebrate firefighter Richard “Rick” Gauthier, Jr.’s 50 years of service to the Chesterfield Fire Department.

The event was a surprise to Gauthier, now 68, who joined the fire department when he was 18 and who in civilian life owns and operates RB BLDR, a house remodeling business based in West Chesterfield.

Before Gauthier’s arrival, the crowd had gathered at the fire station to surprise him.

Chesterfield Fire Chief Richard Cooper said, “Rick’s a guy that who if you ask him for anything, he’s right there and will help out with anything. I’ve worked with him in several things –- the Fire Department and the Lion’s Club — and he’s always there doing his part. He’s a person well deserving of this day.”

Assistant Fire Chief Stephen “Bart” Bevis said, “Rick has a heart of gold. He would do anything for anybody as his years of service prove.”

During the celebration, the fire trucks were parked outside the fire station to make room for the long tables set up inside. At the lunch, Cooper presented Gauthier with a plaque to commemorate his 50 years of service.

Among the attendees were Gauthier’s wife Christine and their children, grandchildren, and other relatives, including his nephew Pete Hubert, also a firefighter and the assistant Fire Chief in White Township, New Jersey, who drove up Saturday morning. He presented Rick with a sun hat with the insignia of St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, and several t-shirts with sayings on them.