10 things you'll feel when you walk out the firehouse for the last time

The circumstances and firefighters vary, but leaving for the last time touched them all deeply; here are some of their feelings


Leaving the fire service is never an easy thing to do.

We get accustomed to spending time with our firefighting family, throwing on our gear and running calls. So, when that is taken out of the equation, it could leave any veteran firefighter grasping for a sense of normalcy.

We asked our fans on Facebook what it is like to walk out of the fire station for the last time. The response was overwhelming. Below are some of our readers' feelings.

And, if you haven't already, be sure to add your thoughts in the comment section below.

"It sucks. Plain and simple. To leave a way of life that never leaves you can't be explained." — Lou Mannheimer

"It's the worst feeling in the world. The day I turned 14, I became a junior firefighter and got to ride with my dad and brothers on calls and train with them. It's part of your life … something you will always have in your heart and will never forget until the day you die." — Meranda Poole

"Leaving for the last time was hard, but knowing you will always be part of the brotherhood was comforting." — Mark Bartholomew

"Fifty-four years as a volunteer firefighter ended last year. It truly sucked and took several months to get rewired to not jumping up and heading out every time the tones went off. I still go down to the station to visit the guys, but it's not the same. I will always miss it." — Herbert Lillibridge

"Like I lost my family. One of the hardest days of my life." — Deb Salewski

"I was a volunteer firefighter for 37 years. Walking out that door the last time was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Firefighting gets in your blood and never really leaves. I miss working with a great bunch of men and women who loved it as much as I. You don't miss the late nights or cold or heat, but all of friendships you've had. I will always be thankful that I was able to help so many people get through a tough time in their lives and how grateful they were. I was glad to be able to give back to the community that gave me so much." — James Buck McWatters

"After working so hard to get captain, looking back at my career and listening to all the stories people had of good times, I could only think did I waste my time? Mine was a LOD injury that gave me a medical retirement. The hardest part is not having the brothers, the fire family. But I have my wife and kids and that's all I need." — Andy King

"I walked out heartbroken. A major part of my life disappeared. I had suffered many years from back pain and decided to go through with a back surgery and fusion from L3-S1. It was not a success. My wife said I mourned over my private life job and mourned over my stepping away from the department." — Scott M. Doyle

"I stood in front of my empty locker that I had just cleaned out for about 10 minutes thinking I would not be putting on the gear again with the guys. In an instant, a 21-year career flashed in my head. I knew I would miss them and the great friendships I had made over the years. I finally closed my locker door, removed my name plate, and walked away. Once you wear the gear, you never take it off. Once a firefighter, always a firefighter." — EM Pelkey

"I was blessed that on my last run we were first in on a large frame house well involved. I retired on my 35th anniversary. When it came time to sign my retirement papers, I froze. I could not sign. After a week of prayer and council with others, I signed and never looked back." — Calvin Morris

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