By Tim KellyAsk soon-to-be-retired Ocean City Fire Department Captain Gary Green what he will miss most after 35 years on the job, and there is no hesitation.“I’ll miss the guys (and women, his co-workers) the most,” he said. “I enjoy helping people at one of their toughest times, and I enjoy working the fires. But the people I work with have become like a second family.”That is high praise, as Green’s actual family represents three generations of public service in Ocean City and two generations with the fire department. His dad, Willard, worked 41 years as an Ocean City Firefighter, rising to the rank of Deputy Chief.“You have to understand, Gary always knew he wanted to be a firefighter and he lived it with his Dad before he ever became one,” current Fire Chief Jim Smith said. “Growing up in town, there was a fire bell in Gary’s house. If there was a fire anywhere on the island at any time, Gary knew about it.”Green, 55, who lives in Linwood these days, added his own legacy to the family tradition, working many big fires on the island and seeing numerous changes in his field.“When I started out, most of the fires were real wood buildings,” he said. “They burned longer and we worked harder. Today, because buildings are so different, the fires move a lot faster, they are hotter and the materials are more toxic.”He said response times are more critical today because a building is liable to be fully involved even if the equipment and crews arrive in less than 10 minutes.“Sometimes all it takes that amount of time for the building to be unsafe to go inside.”Green in action fighting a blaze at the former Bellevue Hotel on 8th Street.An Ocean City High School graduate who played basketball for four years and also ran track, Green was just 20 years old when he started out as a probationary firefighter and it didn’t take him long to get a taste of the gig. A massive fire at the Center Court Apartments, better known to many as The Purple Pussycat, was the first large blaze he helped bring under control.Over the years there were many others, he said, with the Village Theatre on the Boardwalk and the Bellevue Hotel on 8th Street downtown among the standouts.Green also became well-known as the face of the frequent drawbridge malfunctions on the old 9th Street Causeway before it was replaced. In the summertime, the bridge sometimes would expand in the heat and become stuck in the upright position. It was Green’s job to lead the crew onto the bridge and soak it with fire hoses, allowing the metal to cool enough for the bridge to be lowered again.In recent years, he has been in charge of the Engine #2 fire headquarters at 29th Street and West Ave. But that only tells a small part of what he has meant to the Department.“We will go on, but Gary’s retirement leaves a big void,” Chief Smith said. “He is a guy everybody leans on for his experience and his knowledge of the Department, the City, and the way things should be done.”Smith has worked with Green, a 25-year veteran, for his entire career.“Gary was the longest serving member of the department, and he might have a different opinion than I did from time to time. But he always held true to rank and perceptions of the other people around him. If something bothered him, he would take me aside and tell me. I always appreciated that.”“Gary’s commitment to the Department and to firefighting always took priority”, the Chief said. “He has no ego. He wears his heart and his dedication to the job on his sleeve. Guys will do anything he asks them to do because it won’t be anything he hasn’t done or is still doing himself. The younger (firefighters) look up to him. If Gary is working that hard, the younger guys are motivated to work just as hard. Gary’s not afraid to get in there and get dirty.”A few years ago, Green went into a burning apartment building and pulled out an unconscious man. Another time, working with Emergency Management Services personnel, he helped bring a heart attack victim back to life on what turned out to be the man’s 50th birthday.“He lived, died and was brought back to life all on his 50th birthday,” Green said. “That was one of the most memorable calls I was ever on.”Gary Green provides a dry ride for a young student across a flooded street.Green’s retirement means the last member of his family is finally leaving service to the City.His grandfather, Alvan, started the family tradition as a laborer back in the 1920s, and rose to become Superintendent of Public Works. Three sons, Bill, Julius and Green’s dad all worked in Public Safety: Julius and and Willard with the Fire Department and Bill with the Police.Gary’s brother Brian is a 27-year vet of the Fire Department, and his cousin Julius Jr., “Jules”, is a 30-year employee of the Recreation Department.Collectively, the Green family has devoted more than 210 years of public service to the City.And lest anyone think about nepotism, don’t go there. The jobs are Civil Service and the Greens simply scored high on the tests.In addition to his years of experience, Smith said he will miss Gary equally as a friend.“With Gary, what you see is what you get.”Gary with wife Kim Green.Gary’s wife, Kim, has been a nurse at AtlantiCare for 26 years. They have two grown children, Lexi, 25, a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools, and Patrick, 22, who works in finance at a North Jersey corporation.So what does the future hold for Gary Green?“I have plenty of projects to work on around the house; I’ll relax for a while and then see what I might do (for a retirement gig) in the future.” Captain Gary Green in his natural element, in front of an Ocean City fire engine.
Let’s define why we offer valueAll credit to BB for keeping the spotlight on the battered UK craft sector. Is the definition of “craft” or “artisan” the right way to focus the challenge right now?It is a long-running saga, as is the valiant effort of a handful of British bakers to keep up support for our ancient and under-valued craft. We are different to the industrial product and we must find an appropriate way of defining why we offer value.There are two key areas:1. Persuading the UK’s Office of Fair Trading that predatory pricing is a bad thing for consumers.2. Real “fresh” bread was not cooked weeks or months ago and reheated to toast the crust. Fresh bread is baked from flour and water, somewhere local in your community, today.Some might argue that browning a pre-baked baguette in a garage forecourt shop is honestly part of baking. However, the fundamental difference is that the significant baking process cooking the starch happens only once at some point over 90C.In December 2009, new planning policies were issued by the UK Government for England (PPS4) which, in a nutshell, require local planning authorities to take consideration of local town economies and “promote the vitality and viability of town centres as important places for communities”.Out-of-town shopping is important to a modern lifestyle, but I think England has gone too far. UK supermarkets have decimated our industry in half a century. Our French cousins are respected members of their locality and maintain perhaps a 70% market share. The definition of a traditional French bakery is protected in law.Is it time for a fresh look at what we can do through the courts?David Dodge, proprietor and MD, Vienna Bakery, JerseyRobust stance is neededBritish Baker has to take a more robust and brave stance on this issue [definition of craft]. When Sylvia Macdonald tries to justify the use of Vitamin C (Viewpoint, BB, 29 January), there is a disingenuous side to this statement. How many bakers do you really know who literally only add Vitamin C to their flour? It has either already been added at the mill, or, it is added as a prepared mix in a fancy coloured sachet, or from a large sack. It is not just Vitamin C, but a whole load of other “mystery” ingredients besides. Ingredients manufacturers get away with far too much under current legislation. That is why I totally agree with Peter Cook (Letter, BB 29 Jan, pg 16) when he says, “no improvers”. All it does is perpetuate what Tom Herbert expresses in such a colourful way in his column in the same issue.Quite simply, this is a wake-up call to all you big boys dealing in vast quantities of grain and fancy chemicals: it won’t continue for much longer. Tom Herbert’s vision for agriculture will happen. And when it does, there will be a host of independent small high street and community bakeries turning out real craft and artisan bread. How can you possibly describe Greggs as a craft operator?The trouble is that these words really mean something to some people. ’Organic’ is just the same. As soon as the big boys come along, these concepts just get bastardised. Food policy in this country has to change, and it will. There is no place for these organisations in a future world governed by sustainable principles…sorry boys!Andrew Smith, lecturer, Newcastle College, and craft and artisan bakerWhat’s in a name?Craft/artisan are they not the same? The dictionary describes them as a human skill, manual art, and skilled trade. The baking industry is a skilled trade operated by humans! The different names are sometimes used to give a perceived status in the same way that ’cake shop’ and ’patisserie’ are used.The large factory units are not craft bakeries, but some of the larger retail bakeries have high levels of hand-finished products and offer great in-house training to ensure quality is achieved.I’ve not yet found a bakery that doesn’t use at least a mixing machine, so when does a bakery lose its ’craft’ status, because it uses machinery? Sourcing the best raw materials and turning them into top-quality finished products is a craft, at whatever level.Maintaining our traditions of quality and freshness is more important than worrying about what you are called.Colin Lomax, technical sales manager, Rank HovisWe are all in this trade togetherI read with interest the debate kicked off by the BB75 and eloquently tackled by Peter Cook. As the sponsor and judge of the Craft Business Award at the Baking Industry Awards, I thought I’d offer another perspective.It’s a shame Mr Cook feels that craft production at scale, artisanal craftsman and industrial production are discrete and unrelated camps within the baking industry.We need the self-titled Real Bread bakers to inspire us and demonstrate what is possible with fresh, quality ingredients, sheer passion and tremendous skill. We need to have tasty, great-quality sliced bread to fill the breakfast plates, lunchboxes and food-to-go market. We also need family bakers at the heart of their communities. And our retailer in-store bakery colleagues deliver that freshly baked bread (much of it from scratch) to consumers when they want to buy it.As a BIA judge, I’m in the privileged position of being able to see behind the scenes at some of the best businesses in the country. In the past five years, I’ve been surprised at and delighted by the execution of craft that I have seen. These bakers manage the tension between craft and scale so well, that to call their products mass-produced is really to do them a disservice.We’re all in this together, linked by a love of good products and the desire to give our consumers the very best we can at a price they are prepared to pay.Sara Reid, marketing manager, Rank Hovis