Local News

May 30, 2014

Whitfield fire chief’s final day in office is a busy one

Whitfield County Fire Chief Carl Collins described his final day on the job Friday as “bittersweet.”

“I’m going to miss these people, and I’m going to miss this job,” he said. “But I know it’s time for me to go.”

Collins joined the newly formed Whitfield County Fire Department as a volunteer in 1977. He said he only planned to volunteer for a few years.

But just five years later, Collins became its chief, a position he held for some 32 years. Collins, who will turn 65 in June, announced his retirement in March.

Collins said Friday he may be leaving the department but he has plenty to keep him busy.

“I’ve got a lot of things to do at the (his family’s) farm, things I need to catch up on,” he said.

Collins said when he announced his retirement that being able to work on the farm on weekends was one of the things that has “kept me sane” over the years.

The department held a retirement ceremony for Collins a few weeks ago, and he says that earlier this week several colleagues took him out to lunch. On his final day, many firefighters came by to pay their respects. But he said that in many ways his final day was just like any other.

“I have a lot of paperwork I need to finish before I leave, a lot of reports, and I’ve been trying to make sure that I have all that completed,” he said.

The Whitfield County Fire Department has had only two chiefs in its history, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb, who served as a volunteer under Collins in the 1980s, said he will be missed.

The county has been searching for a new fire chief since March, and Babb said commissioners plan to conduct their final interviews with candidates and announce the finalists for the position today.

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