After 32 years of service, Tom Murray retired from his position as paramedic captain at the Hastings Fire Department June 22.
Back in 1985, it started out as just a temporary job, but Murray said that it soon turned into a long-term career.
In 1982, Murray was involved in a motorcycle accident. The Hastings firefighters did what they were trained to do and he was brought to the hospital. When he healed, Murray said that he planned to pay back the community for getting him through that accident. In 1985 he became a paid on-call firefighter EMT. He had plans to have the role for about five years and move on, but instead he joined the department full time in 1990.
"The ability to go out and help people; there's a little adrenaline that goes with it too," Murray said as to why he stuck with firefighting.
During his 30 years of service with the department, Murray has had several roles. After joining full-time as a firefighter EMT he became a paramedic in 1994. In 2015, he was named paramedic captain.
One of his memorable accomplishments was his involvement with the education component of fire prevention, he said.
"For me, it's all been about education," Murray said.
When he was hired as one of the captains, he became the fire prevention specialist. It was natural fit for him because fire prevention was always close to his heart. Early in his career, he saw other firefighters get involved with fire prevention education and he said that it stuck with him.
Murray has traveled to all the elementary schools within the district to talk to the children about fire prevention. The classroom visits would be about 45 minutes. As part of the program, he would explain the importance of not playing with matches, how to stop, drop and roll; and what to do if there is a fire.
Murray said that his favorite part of his job was being able to make a positive impact on someone's life whether that was in the classroom for fire prevention or on scene at a call for service. He also said that he enjoyed it when kids would see the fire truck drive by and they would get a smile on their face.
Now that he has retired, Murray joked that he is going to grow a beard and learn to sleep again. He said is looking forward to spending more time at his cabin up north.
His advice for incoming firefighters?
"This is a serious business that you can't take too seriously," Murray said.
He said that the work that they do everyday is very real and serious, but if someone gets too caught up in that fact they won't be able to survive it.
Murray said that he has been lucky enough to have lots of support in his career. He said that it would not have been possible without the strength of his wife. The rest of the community has also showed him a lot of support, which he said has been fantastic.