MANDITORY retirement… how long is long enough?

It’s The normal hustle and bustle of the Holiday season is expected but now I’m faced with the death and funeral of the wife of a VERY close friend while another good friend and now retired firefighter lies in the hospital. I seen my dad “Pop” at the funeral home tonight. He told me that he and Jimbo had been to visit with now retired Battalion Chief Slayton in the hospital. Pop was upset.

It’s difficult for us (firemen) to see anyone, much less someone you know, love and have worked so long and close to; be in a position where you can’t help them. Chief Slayton suffered a medical emergency just after Christmas and has been in the hospital since. I have spoke (written) about Bobby several times here on the site. Pop worked on Bobby’s shift and was his driver for several years. Bobby is like family … we have been on several off duty trips together, he shared and traveled together on our “2nd job” (the 3 of us .. me, Pop and Bobby).  He even came out and painted my house when I built it. ….my point here … we’re CLOSE. Here we are …

Bobby has a lot of pride in the job and for the time and effort he has put into it. His son is currently on the job here in the “Noke” and I know that Bobby couldn’t be more proud. Bobby pulled time in the busy companies. Old #3, the Squad, Station #9 and Historic #1. He seen some fire and was considered a “good Jake”. Another big accomplishment in his career was making it to the #1 spot on our “Seniority List”. Not only did Bobby hold that spot for some time, he also has the “record” for working the longest.

Chief Slayton was hired December 6, 1965 and retired July 1, 2010. That’s 44 + years! Rhett covered his retirment  HERE and I did  HERE as well. The question that keeps coming to my mind is … WAS IT WORTH IT?  He worked 44 years, has been retired for 6 months and is now facing the possibility of a lengthy hospital stay as well as rehab.

The Fire Geezer had a recent post Is he the oldest active firefighter in the U.S. ? No disrespect here but … this guy just turned 90 years old! Yea … 90!  Is this another LODD in the waiting? WIll it be the first of 2011? I hope not but why even be in the position where he could be?

Chris Naum touched on the topic / issue back before Christmas, with his stellar line up of guest; during his Firefighter Netcast episode of Taking it to the Streets. The show was titled “Looking forward through the rear view mirror” and can be heard  HERE.

Now, Chief Bobby is not 90 years old but it still kills me to see guys .. good guys .. work their ass off and put it on the line for so long only to reap the rewards of a short retirement. These guys deserve better… their wives and families do as well. Are the Cities, Counties , Townships etc doing their part? What ever happened to 20 and out? A “20 and out”  with a max hiring age. We know what’s killing firemen and at what age. When is enough… enough?  90 year old men have no business in the fire service and the days of 30 + year men should be out as well.

Rising insurance, lower retirements etc all play a part I know but these men (we) also pay a higher premium.  We are firemen … we don’t know how to go home, relax and do nothing but we had better learn before it’s too late.

What do you think ??? Should we have a mandatory retirement age? What should it be? Can you do years of service? If hired at 25yo and work for 30, how affective are you at 55? Who carries the burden of liability here?

I don’t know .. but I do know that I have to be on duty tomorrow so I’ll check back with ya sometime then. Until I do, stay safe and in house!

Captain Wines