Well, here it is, the morning of January 25, 2018, my retirement day. I have so many feelings today as I get ready to say farewell to many of you. For the past four decades, I have made the Gates Fire District, Gates-Chili Fire Department, the Town of Gates and the fire service across this nation my life and my passion.
To sit here and be ready to put all this behind me is somewhat frightening, I don’t know what the future will hold for me as I enter the retirement phase. There are many things in the future that we all have no guarantee of, but that’s how it was every day I reported for work. There are no guaranties of what the day would bring. What I do know is that this has been the best ride of my life, (besides marring my high school sweetheart, Donna).
The sad times on this job will not be missed by me, seeing so much tragedy and suffering for the past years has always tore at the heart of me, and many of our firefighters that were involved in some very traumatic incidents. We respond to calls daily, knowing that our training and skills will assist in saving someone’s life or property, but there were those days, no matter how trained or skilled we are, that we couldn’t do anything to save that person or their property.
As a volunteer firefighter, I remember a working fire in a one-story, ranch home with a person trapped, we were searching for an elderly gentleman, the kitchen was fully involved in fire, we made our way down the hallway, searching the bedrooms for the victim with no result. We attempted to continue our search but were driven out of the building by the volume of fire. Unfortunately, the elderly gentleman perished in the fire, when we began our overhaul of the fire area the victim was found. At that fire I had such a feeling of disappointment and loss, not being able to save a life, did we do something wrong?
Many of our firefighters go through the same emotional state, day in and day out. Questioning their self as to what they could have done better at the medical calls, technical rescues or the fires we respond to. These self-evaluations make for a more proficient firefighter as they quest for better ways to save lives and properties. Rest assure, every firefighter in this country will always give you 100% when they respond to your call for help. There isn’t any firefighter that would not risk their life to save the people we serve. Unfortunately, some of our firefighters have given the ultimate sacrifice, laying down their lives to save others.
I am so very proud to say that I have been part of a very noble, loyal and dedicated profession for the past 44 years. I have had my share of trips to the Emergency Department in the back of an ambulance being injured, buildings falling on me, nails puncturing through my boot into my foot, overcome by chemical fumes and so on. So, after all these years I am happy to be able to hang up my helmet, turn in the pager and hand over Command and Control to a very professional and competent fire department.
Thank you all for so much you have done for me and this fire department, may the good Lord watch over all of you. I’ll be off-duty until further notice!!!