David Harrison, who joined the Paris Fire Department in 1983, retired at the end of December after 36 years of service.
“I’m most thankful for my wife of forty-three years and our two sons,” he said. “The fire department helped me raise them and send them to college.”
Overall, Harrison said he’s had a great career. He said he’s thankful to be reaching retirement on his own terms.
There are several aspects of being a firefighter he said he’s enjoyed.
Harrison said he enjoys fire education, and the ways he’s been able to get involved with the public to teach them how to protect themselves.
“With thirty-six years, there’s been so many different calls,” he said.
Harrison said one of the challenges of the job was helping after someone lost a loved one or property.
“After a call, we try to know we did an honorable job,” he said. “That we did the best we could in that moment.”
Harrison has worked plenty of fires in his time at the PFD, including the Trinity United Methodist Church fire in 2015, the 2013 fire that damaged the former Lewis & Williams Market, which housed ReTale History at the time, and countless others.
He said one of the hardest calls he ever worked was a fire on North Porter Street when it was well below freezing.
Harrison said another difficult part of the job has been public perception.
“We’re kind of like insurance,” he joked. “People don’t appreciate us until they need us.”
He said often people poke fun at a firefighter’s downtime, but people don’t realize that even when they’re sitting around the station, they’re constantly ready to go fight fires and save lives if they’re needed.
“People who have actually seen what we do, and needed our services, usually have a better understanding of what we do,” he said.
Now, Harrison has a long, happy retirement ahead of him, but he’ll stay busy regardless, since he’s an ordained minister who works with several different churches.
Harrison said he’s recently been made co-pastor at his home church, Union Primitive Baptist Church in Como.
Beyond his liturgical duties, he plans to spend more time with his family.
“With 36 years, there’s been so many different calls ... I can remember nearly every fire I’ve ever worked,” he said, “Except the first call I had. I can’t remember any of that.”