Remembering Glenn

Glenn Gaines

Glenn Gaines

I want us to recall his way with humor.

In this blur of grief we can forget that Glenn was very funny– mostly in person when his subtle and quick facial expressions were fully “deployed” in the best firefighting sense.

He was a master of the sidelong glance, often paired with a quick rolling of the eyes.

Glenn “spoke” through his eyes and they often twinkled.

He turned tension into humor; in fact, he was an expert at it.

You never wanted to miss his asides, but you better be listening closely because the best ones were lightening fast and delivered at a nearly inaudible volume.

Years ago as fire chief he was testifying at a budget hearing when an elected official asked him how many fires he had put out that year in a specific area of the county.

After a brief pause and with that perfect deadpan delivery came the answer:  “All of them.”

We will remember, too, that pacing walk:  head down, hands thrust into his pockets until disturbed from his inner reverie, usually by one of us.

His was a rare assemblage: the genuine and gentle leader.

In a job with lots of rough and tumble he cared and you knew it.

Wherever splendid human beings go when they leave this place is where he will be found.



  • Cortez Lawrence says:

    I like your term “splendid human being”. It is perfect! Hewas a great professional and a good personal friend who was indeed, a splendid human being! I will miss him, a lot! C

  • Mike Ward says:

    What a great description of Chief Gaines, thanks.

  • Dana Libby says:

    Well said Eric. In my contacts with the Chief – from 1976 at FS03; various times through the next decades in Fairfax County – and even in the past few years on topics ranging from wildfires to sprinkler systems; his words and actions demonstrated that he was a man worthy of respect, filled with both knowledge and wisdom; and who kept his eyes focused on the important things.

  • Thomas Moffett says:

    The beauty of the English language, is the multitude of words available when describing someone or something. You’ve made a fine selection to portray Chief Gaines.

  • Stan Mettinger Jr. says:

    I met Chief Gaines one morning years ago while having breakfast at some doughnut place in Fairfax on 50 with Bill Sheads. Even as a youngster I admired him because he took time as an adult wearing in the firefighter world he talked to me sincerely about being a firefighter. As I progressed through my career, I was always running into him one place or another and he always smiled, and offered encouragement in some form or some sort of advice on some fire service topic. As an adult in my the recent years of my career, I have sat and drank our favorotite adult beverage while hashing out fire service issues. He once quipped at me during a visit to the NFA “You come here a lot young man, I am going to try and get you an office.”He was a true friend, a mentor and a fire service leader. Thank you for all you have done for us in this fire service world Chief. God Bless

  • Steve Deutsch says:

    I had never met Chief Gaines until just last month at the National Fire Academy, but having heard much about him in previous classes, it was nice to hear him in person. What strikes you almost immediately is a sense of pride he had, mixed with a passion for the fire service that instills that same pride in others.

  • Charlie Dickinson says:

    When you were around Chief Gaines for any length of time you realized that notwithstanding his long and distinguished career in the active fire service, that just because he retired didn’t mean he was no longer engaged learning and sharing on many different subjects and issues of the fire service! Oh no…if anything he “dove in deeper” so to speak. And again, if you were around him he drug you in with him enjoying the trip of whatever the learning moment might be! You had to love him doing that! The best part he always welcomed you to “Dive in with him”! How fortunate I was those times that I did!
    Loved him for that and as a dear friend…always will! Will deeply miss him!

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