March 29, 2014

Enjoy retirement, Chief Collins

Since the Whitfield County Fire Department was founded in 1977, the agency has only had two chiefs.

That’s quite an impressive run of stability at a position that is vital to the safety of all of those who work and live in Whitfield County.

The first head of the fire department was Pete Gunn, followed a few years later by current Chief Carl Collins. In all, Collins has worked for the fire department for almost 37 years — with some 32 years as chief.

We learned this week that Collins is retiring on May 30. Collins laid out several reasons for the decision

He’s turning 65 in June, and up until last year he was still responding to fire calls during nights and weekends.

His parents are in their 80s, so he plans to spend more time working on the family’s cattle farm.

And of course, he will spend more time with his family.

Leading a fire department made up of many volunteers firefighters is a difficult job.

The county has experienced budget woes as well, meaning fire trucks and turnout gear weren’t updated as quickly as some may have wanted. But Collins handled his position with a deft touch.

Mike Babb has worked with Collins in different capacities. In the 1980s, Babb worked as a volunteer firefighter under Collins.

More recently, Babb has helped oversee the fire department as chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners.

Babb has nothing but complimentary words for Collins.

“We really appreciate everything he has done,” Babb said.

As do the citizens of Whitfield County. We wish Collins the best in retirement. And we hope whoever county officials select as the next fire chief will serve the public as well as Collins has.

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