Laurium native is Soo fire chief
SAULT STE. MARIE — Scott LaBonte is the newest fire chief in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and he had to travel across the Upper Peninsula to get the job.
The city hired LaBonte on Feb. 21 from a list of 15 candidates for the position.
“It was a nationwide search,” he said.
LaBonte grew up in Laurium and attended Calumet High School. He began his firefighting career when he was 18.
“I was on the Laurium Fire Department when I was in high school,” he said.
LaBonte said he was on the Laurium Fire Department for five years.
His interest in fire fighting began early.
“I had a number of interests, and (firefighting) was the one that stuck,” he said.
After working on the Laurium Fire Department for five years, LaBonte said he went to Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie where he majored in fire science.
LaBonte began with the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department in 2000, before he graduated the paramedics program, he said.
Scott’s father, Ed LaBonte, said Scott began talking about firefighting when he was young.
“At grade-school age, he kept saying he wanted to be a fireman,” Ed said.
Scott’s interest in firefighting is in keeping with the family tradition. His grandfathers and a great-great grandfather were firefighters in the area.
Scott said before he was hired as chief, he was a lieutenant on the department.
“I sort of learned the ropes before I took this job (as chief),” he said.
His first week as the chief was busy, Scott said, meeting many people and learning their names and jobs.
“There’s a lot of hands to shake,” he said.
His wife, Jennifer, is also from Laurium, also. His daughters are Madison, 13, Hallie, 11, and Avery, 8.
Scott said he was encouraged by his family in his endeavors to be a firefighter.
“My parents and brother, Tim, were a huge support in everything I did,” he said.