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I am a sucker for old war stories. Just begin any sentence with “well in my day...”, and I’m hooked like a kid in a toy store. These stories do more than just relive a nostalgic time and event, they educate and provide valuable information about structures, fire, tactics, and of course the character of the men that came before us. Our retirees have much more to offer than the occasional parade march or annual fireman’s ball fodder. Let them know they are welcome within the firehouse - they have earned the right to be there.

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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on February 19, 2012 at 12:20pm


In some cases, I don't think that they "forget" where they came from as much as by dealing with the politics, they become "indifferent" to where they came from. They lose their command presence to administrative issues.

Some will stay and fight with the idea that they are not going to compromise their principles. Others will take early retirement when it is clear that they will have to compromise in order to stay.

Two recent examples are Chief Ron Miller of Moline, IL FD who chose to step down rather than compromise and I think if truth be known; Commissioner Robert Hoff of Chicago FD chose to step down, because he was not willing to gut his department for the sake of the budget. Commendable, although both fire departments lost very good and decent men.

Any chief who has to remind himself that he is the chief undoubtedly suffers from having a small...


Excellent points as always.


Comment by Ron Ayotte on February 19, 2012 at 9:44am

Actually, Paul.. those should be the attributes of every fire chief still on the job. We have far too many that have forgotten where they came from, far too many who refuse to listen to anyone because they say "I am the Chief" and far too many that have a wall of certifications yet little or no experience on the fireground.

Comment by Shawn A. Smith on June 3, 2010 at 10:31pm
Bro. Combs,
Thanks for making this drawing up it hits home a bit. I see not only in my firehouse but in many I visit while selling fire equipment that the younger generation has pretty much written off the retiree's and "old timers" not realizing that they are a truly valuable asset to the department and to them indivually. This generation in whole can learn a lot from them if they would just take the time sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk. Retiree's are a unused resource in the fireservice and should be used as that a resource. If any young firemen read this take my advise, make one of these retiree's or even an older firefighter on your department your mentor and learn all you can from them.
Shawn Smith
Firefighter/ Paramedic
Comment by mike bronk on April 21, 2010 at 12:03pm
Love the valuable asset segment, unfortunately, not all the younger kids coming into the fire service feel that way about the valuable asset, they look at us older folks, as in the way !!!
Comment by John K. Murphy on April 16, 2010 at 9:14am
He would probably get a kick out of that
Comment by Paul Combs on April 15, 2010 at 9:21pm
Well, it wasn't meant to be Chief Brunacini - but I hear that a lot. Maybe I should do a remake with a Hawaiian shirt:)
Comment by John K. Murphy on April 15, 2010 at 8:55pm
A remarkable likeness of that chief dude from Phoenix.

Certainly age steeped with experience can equal wisdom. I have found Chief Brunacini more than willing to share that experience to the benefit of us all. Thanks Chief
Comment by Paul Combs on April 7, 2010 at 5:36pm
Yeah, I get that a lot:) To be honest, the inspiration came from the gentleman who talked me into becoming a fireman fifteen years ago. His name is Joe Hinkle, and even though this character doesn't look much like him, I thought of him with a smile as I was drawing it.
Comment by George H. Potter on April 7, 2010 at 5:30pm
You may not believe it, but that retiree looks like me!

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