Retirement is Bittersweet for Princeton Fire Fighter – It’s Like Leaving Family
Ah, retirement. The day that many of us cannot wait for. We work our entire career with that end goal of never going into the office again. But when your office is also your home 1/3 of the time, and your coworkers are like family, retiring is bittersweet.
Last week, my friend Tim Speedy retired from the Princeton Fire Territory after nearly twenty-six years of service. He has served the community throughout ranks, including the title of Fire Chief. I had to ask him about some of his experiences, and what he'll miss the most.
What made you want to be a firefighter?
"The Fire Department has been my life since I was old enough to crawl in the truck with my Dad and go to fires. He always told me “not to work for the government...get an education”. Well, I got that education (BS in Safety Management from ISU) but I didn’t listen. The desire to help others drew me right back to the fire service after college."
Do you have any calls that stand out - Good or bad?
"Trying to come up with a "story" has been difficult. There are so many stories. Some are good....some are simply horrible. When people ask about your career, they always ask "what was your worst call". There have been a lot of "worst" calls in 26 years. The problem with being a first responder is that there are things that you never want to forget. The comradery and the brotherhood with your fellow firefighters and realizing that they are the key to you going home safely to your family at the end of the shift."
What are you going to miss about your department?
"The people you work with in emergency services are your family. For example, in the fire service, you spend 1/3 or more of your life with these people. You have meals together, live together, make life decisions together."
What are some of the more difficult life challenges of being a Fire Fighter?
"It's difficult to miss family birthdays, holiday meals, Christmas morning presents because you are working. Most responders don't complain because they have the drive to help others. Working those holidays and things is difficult, but just part of the territory.
So those memories are there and will always be there. But, there are also horrible memories. Those are the memories that no matter how hard you try....you simply can not forget. Sometimes at night, or out of the blue these memories will pop into your head. It's hard to explain unless you have walked a mile in a responders shoes."
What do you want to say to people like me that keep asking for one more story?
"So, to come up with a single story that would summarize a career....I just can't do it. Just realize that all the people who dedicate their lives to help others have stories. Again, some are great and make a lot of laughs. But also realize that there are also a lot of emotional scars that come with being a communications officer, EMS professional, law enforcement officer, or firefighter."
This is what I assume Tim will be doing most of the time when he's not helping his daughter with archery or completing that 'Honey do' list!