Fire Chief Murray to step down

At a recent Council Meeting Mayor Wayne Hurst presents Fire Chief Rick Murray with a certificate.

By Joel Charron

There will be no more 2 a.m. pagers that will wake up Fire Chief Rick Murray out of a dead sleep.

After 45 years with the Amherstburg Fire Department, 20 years of which Murray served as chief, the 63-year-old is retiring.

“I think it’s time to relax, do some golfing, go to my cottage and do stuff with my wife,” said Murray.

Murray started with the fire department Jan. 1, 1966. He was then promoted to captain on Jan. 1, 1977. Six years later Murray moved up the ladder to deputy chief and became acting chief April 1, 1990 before being named permanent chief in October of that same year.

“I’ve accepted that it’s time,” he said. “Life is too short. I want to enjoy some of my retirement years. I don’t want to end up retiring and then I can’t do some of the thing you want to do.”

Murray’s last day of work was last Friday, however his official retirement isn’t until March 31. He plans to use banked vacation time to go to Florida and South Carolina with his wife Linda.

“When I come back, I won’t have a job. Except for the jobs my wife wants me to do around the house,” joked Murray.

Murray said he will miss life at the fire station, stating that the firefighters have become his “second family,” however he said when he began questioning himself about going to work he knew it was time “to pack it in.”

“Linda has been retired for two years now, she can’t be having all the fun,’” he laughed.

In the 45 years that Murray has spend with the department, the 63-year-old has seen a lot of changes, mainly with equipment and training the firefighters have to have.

He said training has changed to a regional school for one week to a three-year training program offered at some colleges. Murray views these changes as positive for firefighters everywhere.

“When you have an extensive training program like that it can only ensure that departments are getting the best people suited for this job,” he said.

When the town amalgamated in 1998 with the former Anderdon and Malden townships, Murray said it presented the fire department with challenges and changes, however the change worked out better than expected.

“I think we have the best group of guys in the area, if not the province,” said Murray. “I would put our department up against anyone’s in the province.”

Murray said we would remember the positive days on the department, like Fireman’s Field Days and the countless charities the firefighters support.

Fires like the plastics fire on Howard Ave. and the Lakeview fire will remain in his memory. However, the fires that have claimed lives are the one are hard to shake.

“It’s something that you never get used to,’ said Murray. “It’s hard on firefighters but it’s part of the job.”

Murray said fire service has changed over the years because of new technology, equipment and materials. Although those methods have helped decreased the amount of house fires, Murray said the number one method of saving lives would always be smoke alarms.

“Some alarms save lives,” he said. “It’s disheartening to see someone die because they don’t have a smoke alarm or they take the battery out and cause them their life or the life of a loved one.”

He also mentioned that today’s firefighters face a new challenge, building construction.

‘With the trust roofs and floors, it certainly helped the construction industry but it hasn’t helped the fire service when there is a fire,” he said.  “In fact it has made it more dangerous for firefighter to enter buildings because of the fear of a collapsing roof or the floors giving way.”

Murray referenced a recent fire in Essex where a firefighter fell through the floor.

Murray also said the fire department will always adapt, as he mentioned that firefighters now responded to medical calls and are trained in CPR, First Aid and airway management.

Murray called his 45 years with the department “very fulfilling” and stated that the people you work with are “an essential part of the daily operation.”

“The fire department is not a one man show but somebody has to be the leader and that was my job,” said Murray. “I think I’ve lead them in the right direction.”

One response to “Fire Chief Murray to step down”

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