END OF SHIFT: Troy fire chief retiring this month
Published 3:00 am Friday, February 26, 2016
Many little boys want to be firemen when they grow up.
Troy Fire Chief Thomas Outlaw did not. He was hired as a firefighter and fell in love the job.
Today, the Troy Fire Chief will turn in his hard helmet and his fire axe and go home and play fireman with his eight grandkids.
A retirement celebration will be held for Outlaw from 2 until 4 p.m. at Troy City Hall. The public is invited to come and show appreciation to Outlaw for his longtime public service.
Outlaw said he has worked with great guys at the Troy Fire Department and for great people.
“I’ve enjoyed working for the City of Troy, at the fire department and for the people of Troy and also for the people of Pike County,” he said. “It’s always been about people.”
When he retires today, Outlaw will have served the City of Troy as its fire chief for nine years and one month. He has been with the Troy Fire Department since 1981 and he has been in love with his job since day one.
“I had some friends who worked with the fire department and I was looking for something to get into that had retirement benefits,” Outlaw said. “I got hired and fell in love with the job of taking care of people.”
Before coming to work for the Troy Fire Department, Outlaw had graduated from aviation school and was working as an airplane mechanic at Fort Rucker and was happy with his employment. Then, the war in Vietnam started to wind down and there were layoffs at Fort Rucker. Outlaw was among them. He had to look elsewhere for work.
“It was around 1972 that I got work with a pest control company in Troy,” Outlaw said. “So, that was what I was doing before I came to work for the Troy Fire Department. But, I knew right away I was in the right place at the fire department.”
Outlaw attended Fire School I and II in 1981 and EMT classes in 1982.
He was preparing himself as a firefighter but with no thoughts of being the chief.
“I worked hard with the fire department because I wanted it to be my career,” Outlaw said. “I liked getting to know the people and I liked the thoughts of helping people.
“Staying away from my family every third night was, I guess, the only down side of the job. But, living in close quarters like firefighter crews do, you become like family and I appreciated those close friendships.”
Outlaw said he has worked fires of all sizes — as big as the one at Whaley’s warehouse and as small as a brush fire. But every fire is worked the same because there are no unimportant or insignificant fires, he said.
When Outlaw was announced as the chief of the Troy Fire Department in August 2006, it was both a proud and humbling moment.
“I never expected to be the chief but I was appreciative of the opportunity,” he said.
Outlaw took the reins as chief of the Troy Fire Department in February 2007. On Friday, he will take off fire chief’s badge and become a retired fire chief.
“As fire chief, you are on call all the time,” Outlaw said.
“I’m looking forward to being able to sleep all night with the phone ringing. And, I’ve got a lot of playing to do with my grandkids and a long honey-do list.”
When he’s not playing or check items off his honey-do list, Outlaw said he plans to do some fishing and hunting. He doesn’t play golf, which is almost a required activity for retirees, but said he might pick it up.
“Rita and I would like to do some traveling here in the United States and I’d really like to go to Israel,” he said. “But first, I think I’ll just sleep late.”