By Virginia Dean
For the last 38 years, Steve Finer has dedicated his time to helping those in need in the greater Killington-Rutland community. Now, he will be retiring as a volunteer from the Killington Fire and Rescue and the Rutland Regional Medical Center.
“I was always taught that you have to give to your community to make it work and be better,” said Finer in a recent interview. “After 38 years of doing so, I feel that it’s time for some new blood, as they say. It’s very hard after all this time to go cold turkey, so I’m no longer going to be responding to fire calls. I’ll be responding less and less as time goes by for rescue calls. It really gets into your blood and system, and it’s so hard to walk away.”
Raised in Newton, Massachusetts, Finer moved to Killington in 1983 to run the Fractured Rooster bed and breakfast with former wife Sylvie Lavoie-Finer. Shortly upon his arrival, he started and was head of Killington First Response. He then joined the fire department with Jim Felton as chief at the time.
“He’s been very involved and extremely dedicated,” said Lavoie-Finer. “He has taught many classes as well, ranging from first response, CPR, EMT certification, and different levels of fire safety, to name just a few.”
According to Lavoie-Finer, he took his duties seriously and was deeply dedicated to the fire department and First Response.
“On many cold winter nights the tones would go off, be it to respond to a fully engulfed fire, car accident, someone sick or injured, or even a barroom brawl,” she said. “In our family, we would often say that, if you needed medical attention, ‘Who you gonna call? Steve Finer!’ We would, without a doubt, definitely want him there if someone were hurt.”
Finer saved lives and helped many folks who were in panic or crisis mode, Lavoie-Finer said.
“He knew how to take control and set the tone, helping to make family and friends feel a bit better at the time,” she said. “He was very good under the pressure of these emergency situations. Now, it’s time for him to enjoy his retirement, giving him time to visit with family and friends as well as travel plans in the future.”
One of its most active members, Finer will be sorely missed at the Killington Fire and Rescue, Search and Rescue, and First Response Squad, said current Fire Chief Gary Roth.
“Steve was a strong promoter of EMS training in the department,” said Roth. “We wish him the best of luck in his retirement.”
In fact, according to his son, Dustin, he wrote approximately $500,000 in grants for the department, which was used for SCBA equipment, a compressor for filling bottles, turnout gear, a thermal imaging camera, the generator for the 1973 Killington Road station and a pump house/water fill station from the river to the fire station. The grants also outfitted the present light rescue and the dry hydrants in the town.
Finer has two children — Dustin, who lives in Montréal, and Brielle, who resides in Boston.
At RRMC, Finer dedicated countless hours helping patients, training younger staff, and putting the needs of the community before his own, according to Sheena Daniell, director of emergency services.
“For many of us here at RRMC, Dec. 31, 2021 not only marked the end of 2021, but the ending of the Finer era,” said Daniell. “Steve’s dedication, work ethic, commitment to patients and co-workers were extraordinary. His work will have a lasting impact on our patients, staff, emergency department, hospital, and community.”
Yet, Finer has not only spent his time volunteering for community non-profits, he has also spent over 20 years performing table side magic, close-up magic (at one local restaurant), and stand-up magic.
Magicians are wizards, spellcasters, enchanters. They are wise. They mentor. They act as quest companions or even go on quests themselves. They cast spells, inventing new ones, or rediscovering the old. Their magic sometimes ascribes them authority; they may advise or be rulers themselves. They have the power to make impossible things happen by performing tricks of illusion and sleight of hand.
That was the world of Killington’s Steve Finer who’s been entertaining with his magic and comedy since he was 6 years old, growing up in the Boston area. In the last 60 years, Finer has performed from Boston to Seattle, with stops in between, traveling with his sidekick, Charlie the Rabbit. He has also executed his craft in Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany.
In fact, he is the only performer in the world at this time (only at special performances) to float his assistant in the air atop a ski and make it snow around her.
He also spent 10 years teaching middle school industrial arts before becoming a full-time performer. Holding a master’s in education, Finer uses his experiences to bring an educational lean to his performances.
He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Order of Merlin and Society of American Magicians. From magic to volunteering, he has tried to make a difference in people’s lives.
“Many times, it is someone I will never know or see again,” Finer said. “But many times, it is someone in the community who I have taken care of. I’m proud of my accomplishments and services to the town and department.”