Barnesville’s fire chief, Bob Smith, retired after a 50-year career on Thursday.
Smith has been Barnesville’s fire chief for 20 years, and a member of the department for 50.
He said when he started, firefighters wore long rubber raincoats and hip boots, but no air packs. He also said firefighters would have to break a window and step outside frequently to breathe.
Smith said over his career, he has responded to six drownings, four fatal fires, and gone on thousands of calls.
He remembered one house fire where a little girl believed her beloved cat had died.
“Little girl said her cat was in the house so we went and searched it once the fire was out and found the cat. I brought it out and got my air piece and put the cat’s face into it and turned the oxygen on. It brought the cat back alive and I gave it to the little girl,” Smith said.
Incoming fire chief Tim Hall said Smith has been very dedicated to the department. “Day and night, holidays, it doesn’t matter. He was always there. He’s made a lot of improvements in the last 20 years as chief here,” he said.
“I think that Chief Smith is an incredibly talented man in the fire service. I think that given the last 50 years, he’s learned a lot and he’s taught many generations of people around here, throughout the entire county but especially in our town,” said firefighter and paramedic Tristan Pace.
Smith said he has always wanted to travel, but never had the time.
He added he is thankful his health is still good, and he may even return to the fire department as a member, or at least a frequent visitor when he gets back from his travels.
Firefighting runs in Smith’s family. His son was a former assistant fire chief, and his grandson, Ricky Smith, is now the fire chief in Bellaire.