HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - One hundred and eighty-two years of experience. That’s what Huntsville Fire & Rescue is losing with seven people turning in their uniforms.
Their last day is Jan. 31.
The seven people retiring at the Huntsville fire department not only have a lot of experience, but they also have a lot of leadership. A chief deputy and three captains are in this group of seven that will be retiring at the end of the month.
“To become a captain, it’s quite extensive training to be able to do that. It takes a minimum of, very minimum of, eight years, which honestly, nobody makes it in eight years. It’s somewhere in between eight to 13 years to become captain. Anything above that, deputy chief, you’re talking 10 to 15 years experience," said Capt. Frank McKenzie, who is among those retiring.
For these firefighters, helping people in the community is more than a job. It’s a labor of love and a sacrifice they say they’ll miss.
“You take this job because you want to make a difference you want to be able to go out there and give people an extended life. You spend more time on shift 24 hours with your firefighter family more than you do with your real family,” McKenzie said.
With seven Huntsville firefighters retiring, there are openings if you want to join the firefighter family. There’s only one academy every year and the application process will start in a couple months. Once accepted, it’s a long process to earn a badge and the uniform.
“First of all, it takes about six months to go through the process for your training," McKenzie said. “There’s a lot of things you have to go through.”
McKenzie says within the next three years there’s a potential for 25 percent of the fire department to also retire. That’s 80 people.
McKenzie says he’ll miss his job, but he now has plans to get married, travel the world and spend time with his daughter, Piper.