As his family looked on proudly from the front row of the City Council Chambers at City Hall, Paul Eaves took the oath of office as deputy chief of the Chelsea Fire Department.
It was an especially poignant and emotional ceremony for Eaves’s mother, Irma, whose husband, the late Thomas F. Eaves Sr., served in the department for 33 years, retiring in 1981. Mrs. Eaves was visibly moved as her son accepted his new position of leadership among the city’s bravest.
Paul Eaves has had a distinguished 32-year career in the department, rising through the ranks from firefighter to lieutenant in 1988 and to captain in 2005.
“I took the firefighters’ exam at my father’s suggestions, recalled Eaves, who started his career as a teacher in the Chelsea school system and later served as coach of the Chelsea High girls basketball team.
Eaves said it has been a satisfying career working in the city in which he grew up [on Chester Avenue] and attended school. Firefighting is a noble profession where one is called upon to confront dangerous situations, such as a home engulfed in flames, and make split-second, life-saving decisions.
“It’s been a long and satisfying journey,” said Eaves. “It can be very dangerous but that comes with the job. I work with a great group of professionals, many of whom I’ve come up with through the ranks.”
Eaves graduated from Chelsea High in 1973 where he starred in a backcourt that included fellow Shurtleff School graduates Tony Taraskiewicz and Mark Levine. At Shurtleff, Eaves gave a glimpse of his future leadership skills as chief of the school’s traffic squad. He also ran cross country and track at Chelsea High.
Eaves received his degree in Education from Bridgewater State College and entered the teaching profession. He has taken several fire science courses during his career in the department.
“My father was an EMT instructor at Bunker Hill Community College and I took the course with him while I was teaching, just so I would know how handle any sprains or broken bones when I was coaching,” said Eaves.
Eaves’s son, Paul II, has been a firefighter in the Saugus Fire Department for three years. He is a U.S. Army veteran who served seven years and now serves as a staff sergeant in the National Guard.
“I’m very proud of my son and my daughter [Ashley], too,” said Eaves. A graduate of Suffolk University, Ashley is pursuing Master’s degrees in Business and Finance at Boston College.
In addition to his mother, Irma, and his children, Eaves has received great support in his career from his wife, Joanne, his brothers, Thomas Eaves and Dr. William Eaves, and his sister, Donna.
Acting Chief Robert Houghton offered his congratulations to Eaves on behalf of the department.
“For Paul Eaves, this is a well-deserved honor for someone who has served for more than three decades in the department,” said Houghton. “It’s good to see a veteran guy rise to the position of deputy chief. He’s experienced. He’s seen it all and he’ll be a great asset to the department. The Eaves family has a strong family tradition in this city.”
“It’s a very exciting day for the family,” said Ashley Eaves. “I’m excited for my dad. He’s second generation in the department. He’s worked a long time and I’m proud of him. We have three generations of firefighters in our family.”