Who are they? Is it just someone that is real old? Or is it someone that's been a member of a fire department for many years? Well, it could be both. So look around, every fire department has them. Sometime during the day, there may be one or two that will stop by your station for a cup of coffee, a talk or just to hang around. Many of them still miss the excitement of riding the apparatus, and others it could be the friendship, or the 2nd family; but due to health issues, age, riding requirements or the distance they live from the station, they have to hang up their boots. When it comes to history about the fire service, they just might be the ones you'll need to get the facts right. Now it's just memories of the past. We must not forget there are still old timers out there that are still riding. For others, they hope they'll be able to share some of their stories, especially to new members.
Yes, a few old stories would follow and they would be nice and listen to the stories, some might be re-peats and usually one question will end up with a few more. You might even see some Old Timers at your company drills. Just because they don't ride anymore, they can still share a lot of knowledge and experience. You might not think much about an Old Timer, but sadly, some of you may not be around to be called an old timer.
Oh, let's not forget LOSAP! You'll might hear someone say, the only reason they come around is for the LOSAP. Well, when LOSAP started, many of them already had many years of active service that they did not get credit. So they have to make up lost time in order to collect it. So why shouldn't they come around to get their LOSAP points. Most, if not all deserve it maybe only missed a year or two. So it's not too late for them, or is it?
Talking about years of service, there is a very spe-cial person, that is well known throughout the fire service and this is MSFA Past President Oscar Baker, and if I'm not mistaken, this year he will celebrate his 70th year in the fire service. Unbelievable! Congratulations to all that he has done for the fire service. If you are looking for history about the fire service, he's the person to go to. Just remember an Old Timer has been there, done that with pride and dedication to his/her department and community over many, many years.
Some of the Old Timers usually start with small talk, which may end up being a big talk. Hopefully, you will enjoy their talks and learn some interesting facts. Some of them will bring in old newspaper clippings, pictures of fires and old apparatus and what turnout gear and buildings looked like back then. Some might bring in old items such as tools, badges, or hel-mets. So, then next time an Old Timer comes through the door, be polite and take a little time to listen; you might learn something. And would you believe that I am one of those so called Old Timers. I'll stop by the station and say hi and to look around!
In closing, I hope that I have not offended anyone in the fire service regarding Old Timers or seniors. Just think of all the history about the fire service that they have provided for us over the years. We must also not to forget the ones that we have lost along the way.