Volume 4 Number 47
November 23, 2007


Twenty-two retired firefighters and EMS workers from The Villages, Florida came to the Fire College by bus on November 15, 2007, to tour the campus and look at some of the new technology. The visit started in the auditorium for a welcome by Chief Dave Casey. His slide presentation of “do you remember when” was quite a hit.

Everyone got a good laugh when Chief Casey asked if they remembered following their officer into a fire and being able to see where he was by his lit cigarette. Of course in the standards of today, inside the fire the officer would be wearing full gear including self contained breathing apparatus and fewer firefighters are smoking these days. They took a tour of the outside facilities including the Haz Mat field, Urban Search and Rescue, and vehicle extrication just before a luncheon in the fire station.

Bill “Andy” Andrews and Harry Schaffer, both retired from the Washington D.C. fire department in 1985, said they were quite impressed with the new equipment technology.

Plasma cutters, live fire demonstrations using the new computer controlled and gas fired props, thermal imaging, and the snake eye cameras/monitors were demonstrated by staff.  Glenn Bruce, retired in 2000 from the Troy Township Fire Department in Ohio, whose son has followed in his footsteps and is a training officer in Mansfield, Ohio, said he was most impressed with the changes in search and rescue and will discuss them with his son.

Then the “old met the new”. The latest recruit class met with the retirees and had the opportunity to ask questions of each other. The first question from a student was what do you miss the most and the response seemed to be the same from many: “the fire service family.” When the students wanted to know what the retirees thought of the new generation of firefighters, Fred Stark, retired Bureau Chief from the Florida State Fire College, responded, “There really is no difference between now and the past…..well, maybe a few gray hairs for some of us. Firefighters set themselves apart from others by their dedication.”  The biggest laugh came when a student asked what the former fire chiefs in the room looked for in a new recruit and one yelled from the back, “they need to be a good cook.”

There were many accolades going both directions as some of the “rookies” got to shake hands with the “retirees.” The visit was sponsored by The Daily Sun newspaper, which is part of the Villages Media Group that serves The Villages, Florida. After the visit a tired but happy group boarded their bus for the trip home. According to Chief Dave Casey of the Florida State Fire College, “It was a great afternoon of interaction for the visitors, the fire college staff, and the student firefighters. We all came away with a tremendous respect for each other."