Retirement…. you know when it’s time.

september 11 Greenbelt Maryland4213My dad has been retired from the job for several years now. I’ve been fortunate enough to see several good firemen make to retirement age and beyond. I’ve also seen a few that retired and passed soon after, never getting to reap the rewards of their labor.

In a Face Book post yesterday, I mentioned some big news coming today. Well, here its …. you’d better sit down cause this may take me a minute. (If you’re not following me on Face Book … use the link below) on Face Book HERE

Photo by Kyle Green Roanoke Times

Photo by Kyle Green Roanoke Times

Dad and several other retired members, whom I look up to;  have always told me … “you just know when it’s time to go”. You’ll wake up one morning and “know”.

I’ve been thinking about it for some time now. The honest answer is that I’m tired.

In a previous post “We are all Climbing” (link) I wrote about how I have been climbing stairs all my life. I went on to explain how I feel that all of us on the job have been “climbing” steps in one way or another.

I’ve often talked about Brothers and Sisters who reach retirement age yet continue to hang around (maybe longer than they should). It’s like they’ve been climbing so long, they’re on an escalator and don’t know how to get off. They don’t know how to leave (retire).

I’ve never wanted to be “that” fireman. I’ve been waiting for the light to come on or for that moment when I would just “know”.

Now don’t get me wrong …. I still LOVE THE JOB but, I love my family even more and I want to make sure that I’m not only around to watch them grow up but that I’m also able to spend some quality time with them along the way.

1381946_682287188450253_1025170955_nI know you’ve heard the saying “get out while you’re young enough to enjoy it”. Well, I’m not getting any younger.

I also have a lot to stick around for these days.

Things weren’t as clear to me when I was a younger fireman. I wasn’t a good husband, father, son or brother. I just wanted to be a good fireman.

I didn’t understand how much my family sacrificed due to my commitment to the job.

I can’t take any of that back or change it but I can vow not to make those same mistakes again. It’s time for me to start paying it back .

1899869_719812034719123_1592775624_n (1)I’m also tired of the hassles … the struggles, fights and BS of the job.

I may be a high school drop out but I’m not stupid. I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go in the Department I’m with. I’ve been skipped 7 times now for promotion to Battalion Chief (several times from the #1 spot on the list). You don’t need 20/20 vision to read the writing on the wall.

Our own members run to the Chief behind your back to report any and everything they can find or come up with.  Just this week, I was reported for my turnout gear. If they think they can make themselves look better, make you look bad or simply bank “points” with the Chief then you had better watch your back.

It’s seems as if (in some Departments) the Brotherhood is being eaten by greed and self-preservation / promotion. Why hang around for another dose?

Captain Wines and Lt Rhett Fleitz looking downThose of you who have followed the site over the past year know of my struggles with mental illness. It was a long, difficult battle that was just a small part of the war I continue to fight.

It’s taken a lot out of me and to be honest again, I’m not sure I want to see any more of the things I’ve witnessed through out my career.

I wish my mind could forget the things my eyes have seen.

I’ve seen and done enough for the job.

Depression and PTSD have changed me forever. I reached my breaking point and beyond. I’ve talked (and written) about finding my “New Normal” (link) but I’m not sure I ever will.

If I do find that “new” place, it will never be at the  same level I once was / had. I don’t look at that as a failure as much as I do a reality.

10Another contributing factor in this decision is the success Rhett and I have had away from our Department.

We have been working with some AMAZING organizations over the past several years and feel as if we have really made a positive impact on the fire service as a whole.

Beyond that, we teach and/or speak on various topics all across the Country (Have us speak at your event. Click HERE) . We attend all the major shows / conferences and are highly sought after for “appearances” by major companies (I say this not boastfully but to make a point).

Fire Critic Face BookWe have built “something” here. Something it seems the Fire Service is hungry for something that has VALUE and something that is POSITIVE.

It’s been very well received. We are fortunate to have been  Backed By Brotherhood!

Our web sites, blogs and Social Media presence continue to skyrocket! The Fire Critic Face Book page has reached 116,000 and continues to grow on a daily basis! The Ironfiremen page broke 20,000  just this week as well!

The number of daily “hits (visits) to our sites is unbelievable. Neither of us can keep up with e-mails, texts, “IM’s, phone calls or messages. Revenue from advertising alone more than covers our expenses. It’s turning not only into a business but also into a full time job just to keep up and be everywhere we are supposed to be. We need to hire a secretary, an accountant and a booking agent. It’s a good problem to have …. we’re doing very well!

retirement paper3All this makes my decision even easier. You all know that Rhett and I are almost inseparable…. you hardly ever see one of us without the other.

Well guess what? We’ve discussed it (as we do everything) and Rhett has been thinking the same thing.

I guess sometimes, the simplest things are right in front of you and you never know it.

I’ve been worried, thinking and stressing about retirement for a while now and it’s really not that big of a deal. It’s not a difficult decision when you lay it all out.  It’s not like I’m leaving the fire service, I’ll just be running a little more “mutual aid”…. hitting the “other” areas. Wish me luck!

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines


P.S. Happy “April Fool’s Day …. ha ha ha….you can’t get rid of me that easy! Or can ya?