Retired fire fighters honored
Manila Volunteer Fire Department hosted a dinner Thursday evening at Big Lake Country Club in honor of recent retired firefighters.
"We have been trying to get them all together for some time to recognize them and let them know how much we appreciated the many years of service and dedication they have given to the Manila Fire Department and the community," Fire Chief Jerry Hitchcock said.
Retirees and their years of service are Carroll Towell, 39 years; Barry Baker, 31 years; Jimmy Adams, 31 years; Gary Hamilton, 28 years; and Paul A. Routon, 20 years.
The men have a combined 149 years of experience.
"These are a great group and it will take us many years to replace the experience they have," Hitchcock said. "I know their heads turn every time the fire alarm is sounded. I also know they will always be there to support us any way they can in the future. We appreciate the Country Club and staff for hosting the dinner, Bobby Tucker for cooking, and everyone who helped with the dinner."
The retirees received plaques and gifts were presented to their wives.
The Manila Fire Department has 18 members and two on probation/training.
"We have a good group of young people coming up," Towell said.
Baker said one of the biggest changes he saw from his start in 1975 is the safety equipment of today.
Towell who started on the fire department in 1967 said the technology on how to fight a fire has changed.
"We did not have safety equipment and did not know about chemicals," Towell said. "We just jumped in with what we had. The firefighters are well trained. We also are fortunate to have the First Responders as part of the fire department today. They are double barrel important to the community. Many times they are the first ones to arrive. They started out as a rescue unit and have continued in training and are now the First Responders."