After a combined 134 years in fire service, four firefighters have set their retirement dates over the next four months in Hendersonville.
Each with more than 30 years of experience, the captains of Hendersonville Fire stations 3, 4, 5 and 6 will retire by July 6. Usually, the department has people retire every two or three years. This group retiring so close to each other is an unheard of occurrence in the department.
"They are solid, they have been solid in this organization for years," said Hendersonville Fire Chief Scotty Bush.
The firefighters are Capt. Tommy Jenkins, Capt. Ron Shoemake, Capt. Joseph Brown and Capt. Glenn Uram. Shoemake ad Brown had a joint retirement part Friday and the Uram and Jenkins will have separate parties in the coming months.
Shoemake is set to retire on April 2 and has the most experience of the four men with 40 years under his belt and is known as a trainer to many of his peers.
"I watched them when they was rookies, watched them advance through life, watch them grow as men and become career orientated firefighters," said Shoemake during a joint interview in Fire Station 6.
Brown said his plan is to travel when he retires with 30 years of experience. He spoke about how he made it through each day when he was called upon for various accidents and emergencies.
"You gather everything good that you've done and all the successes that have come out of the calls that you've made, group them all together and then move onto the next shift," he said.
But not all of the groups time has been positive. Capt. Glenn Uram, who has 34 years of experience and will retire in July, said there are still some calls that haunt him.
"Sometimes you see those little roadside crosses," said Uram. "We can put faces to them. We know what they look like. We saw it. And we got to smell it, see it, and experience it."
Even though the life of a firefighter is filled with adversity, Captain Jenkins said he would do it all over again if he had to.
"To be able to respond to those things and to help somebody, it's been a very rewarding career," said Jenkins. "A lot of people don't have the chance to do those sorts of things. I personally have felt very grateful to have those opportunities."
Jenkins will retire on June 6 with 30 years of experience. All four said they plan to keep in touch with each other.