Longtime former Crawfordsville Fire Chief Dennis Weir was remembered Monday as a story-telling, wild-driving firefighter who helped shape a generation of first responders with his passion for the call of service.
Weir, who died Oct. 3 at the age of 70, is the longest-serving chief in Crawfordsville history and launched the city’s paramedic service, setting the stage for the globally-recognized community paramedicine program.
“I think he probably dropped his middle name and his middle name was Crawfordsville Fire Department,” Kevin Howey, EMS lieutenant and pastor of Alamo Christian Church, said as he officiated Weir’s funeral service at Sanders Priebe Funeral Care.
Weir, the department’s leader from 1988-2004, held court at the station’s kitchen table, telling stories late into the night — fortifying himself through shift changes with PayDay candy bars and coffee. He had followed his father Kenneth, a 13-year veteran, onto the department.
Current chief Scott Busenbark, who first met then-captain Weir as a teenager when he shadowed a firefighter for a careers class, said Weir loved the traditions and camaraderie of firefighting.
“In many ways, he was married to the department,” Busenbark said in his remarks, flanked by the current members.
In the early 1990s, Weir brought in the city’s first contracted paramedic service, which was eventually replaced by the department’s own EMS team. At the age of 50, he completed training to fight wildfires in Oregon, where he was affectionately known as “grandpa” by the crew.
Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton, who succeeded Weir as fire chief, said Weir’s legacy has carried on to the current generation of firefighters mentoring new members.
“Dennis set the bar high for many of us,” Barton said, “and that expectation is being handed down to those who serve today — those who had never had the chance to work alongside him.”
As construction on a new east end fire station began, Weir, who retired from the department in 2006, was named to the project’s building corporation. He placed the pin to secure the station’s longtime bell into the building’s tower.
“It was a small thing that anyone could do, but I think it meant more to him than any public recognition ever could,” said Andrew Borden, Weir’s nephew.