The past few weeks at work have been typical for this time of year. Each December, our Deputy Chief decides where each of us will be stationed for the next year. On top of that, we recently had a Deputy Chief retire. With this all taking place at the same time, there are several guys that have earned promotions and several that end up having to move shifts. The guys even played a pretty good prank on me about having to move shifts, but as I have always said…I can work with pretty much anyone because I love the job!
Deputy Chief William “Chip” Adkins retired this week after 32 years of service with the city of Kingsport. He spent the majority of his career at the fire department, but was initially hired in as a Police Officer. He promoted up the ranks for around 7 years within the PD, and then fulfilled his life long dream of being a firefighter. Chief Adkins came to the FD in 1987, and there is no doubt that he witnessed a lot of changes not only at KFD, but also in the fire service in general. Chief Adkins was my first Deputy Chief on B-shift as I hired on in 2008. I was able to swing by his retirement party at our Central Fire Station where he was presented with a shadow box of his badges/name plates, an axe with our department patch made into it, and the City presented him with a watch.
Chief Adkins made a presentation to one of our firefighters that will have a lasting effect on many of us. Chief started by talking about how when he hired in, the firefighters uniform consisted of a tie. He explained about how his Captain, back in the day, had presented him with a tie bar with the words “Kingsport Fire Department” engraved on it. He continued with talking about how even though the department had went away from having ties as part of the uniform, he kept this tie bar. He then told us that the Captain that had given the tie bar to him was Captain Charles Berry. Berry was killed in the Line of Duty in 1988 when the fire apparatus he was riding in was involved in an accident. Captain Berry’s grandson, Marcus Dykes, is a firefighter at Kingsport and Chief Adkins presented him with the tie bar.
The thought that Chief Adkins had held on to something at the time, not knowing what large signiciance it would end up being today…well, it means a lot. Tradition is one of the words that we often see refered to in the fire service, and I also personally think that is it something we need more of. I think that we need to keep these things in mind on a daily basis knowing that we are not promised tomorrow. Something that means nothing today could mean so much to a family member of someone who has passed on…
Tomorrow is New Years Eve and I will be on-shift riding the engine. I am looking forward to bringing in the New Year and I think that we will have lots in store for 2013! We have recently grown to just over 700 “Likes” on our Facebook page, and I hope that I can keep everyone interested in reading along. I am aware of the many fire service blogs out there, but also believe that each of us bring something unique to the table. Thanks for all of your support, and I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year.