72 years old with 43 years of Service--Firefighter Retires
He Knows The Fire Drill
BY STEPHEN THOMPSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Sep 18, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG - When Cornealius F. ``Freddy'' Guy joined the St. Petersburg Fire Department, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.
Firefighters had to hang their hoses in a tower to dry because they were made of cotton then and would rot if left wet.
And a common emergency was the grass fire - unimaginable now in most of Pinellas, the most densely-populated county in the state.
This month, after 43 years, Guy is retiring.
He's 72 years old.
``It's been a wonderful job, and I've had a wonderful life,'' said Guy, who's been married to his wife, Lois, even longer than he's been a firefighter, and who has four adult children and six grandchildren.
``And I'd do it all over again and stay another 40 years.''
Despite his age, Guy has not restricted himself as a firefighter, said his boss, Lt. G.B. Rockey. He goes out on all calls and does his share at Station 9 as well, usually washing dishes after the evening meal.
Three of the firefighters with whom he bunks at Station 9 were toddlers when Guy started out in the department; two others weren't born yet.
Still, he has more than kept up with them when they respond to a fire, accident or medical emergency, Rockey said.
``He's probably one of the few people I have to make go sit down,'' Rockey said. For instance, firefighters are supposed to rest after their 30- minute air bottles empty, but Guy will put on a new bottle and resume whatever he was doing, the lieutenant said.
Guy, on the other hand, has become aware of a certain deference on the part of his colleagues, with supervisors often replacing him with younger firefighters when he's inside a building or on a roof.
``I have sense enough to know that at 72 years old I need some help, and these guys give me all the help that I need,'' Guy said.
Many in the public safety field earn their pension after the 20- or 25-year mark and move on to another job to qualify for a second pension.
Guy considered doing that once. He just didn't think he would end up working this long. He's accumulated so much sick time, he said - 3,000 hours - that he could have taken more than a year off if he had to.
But back in 1959, Guy had his doubts when his wife showed him a newspaper advertisement placed by the fire department, now called Fire & Rescue, and encouraged him to apply. The Guys had moved to Florida from Toledo, Ohio, after he lost his job with a railroad.
``I never thought I would make it for one thing,'' Guy said. ``And I never thought I would like it.''
Reporter Stephen Thompson can be reached at (727) 823-3303.