January 1, 2010

USA: Over 35 years fighting fires, but he's not burned out

. PETERSBURG, Virginia / Progress-Index.com / January 1, 2010 Fire Marshal Charlie Moore retires after more than 35 years of service By F.M. Wiggins, Staff Writer PETERSBURG - After 35 1/2 years with the Petersburg Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, Charlie Moore officially retired yesterday. In his time with the department, Moore has gone from a firefighter, to a sergeant engineer, to captain and eventually fire marshal. "I've seen a lot of changes in the department," Moore said. "But one thing that's never changed is how Petersburg firefighters fight fires and how dedicated they are." Petersburg Fire Marshal Charlie Moore officially retired yesterday. F.M. Wiggins/Staff Photo Moore said that since being promoted to fire marshal, he worked hard on preventing fires through enforcement of fire regulations. "That's what the job is all about," Moore said. So far, the work seems to be paying dividends. Moore said this past year has had some of the fewest fires in five years. He added that for 2009 there were also no fatal fires before he retired. "Some of the firefighters jokingly tell me that they'll be glad when I retire so they can have some work to do again," Moore said. Though he said in all seriousness, the reduction in fires is a good thing, and the reduction in needless deaths an even better thing. "I can remember my first fatal and the last one both like they were yesterday," Moore said. "But it really gets me and the other guys when it's children or the elderly." In 2007, six children died, a fact that weighs heavily on Moore to the end of his career. "The fire marshal's office got blamed for a lot of that," Moore said. "They said that we didn't have the safety of the public in mind. That's not true though." Moore said that since taking the fire marshal's position in 2003 he has worked very hard to reduce the number of fires in the city. He added that the work has paid off. Even more so under the current fire chief, T.C. Hairston. Moore said that Hairston is the most proactive chief he's worked for - and Moore has served under eight chiefs. "He's proactive instead of reactive," Moore said. "Police have community policing. We have community fire protection." As part of the community fire protection initiatives, Hairston has had the fire department go out into the community to offer free smoke detector installation and fire hazard inspections for interested residents. "I really think that has helped us to reduce the number of fires we've had," Moore said. He added that especially over the past three years the actual number of fires in the city has greatly been reduced. But when fire fighters do have to go fight fires, they do so with all possible effort. Moore said that for them, the job is about preventing fires and fighting them to deal the least amount of damage possible. "People in this city don't have a lot, so we work hard to protect what they have," Moore said. Moore said that one of his proudest accomplishments was starting the research that led to an increase in building permit fees in the city. "Prior to 2005 when they split the fire marshal and building official positions, I had started this research," Moore said. Building permit fees hadn't been increased in more than 20 years before that. After the increases passed City Council the collection in building permit fees jumped from $187,000 to more than $600,000. Moore said that after 35 1/2 years serving the public in the Fire Department, he and his wife of 36 years plan to do some traveling. "It's a big country and I want to see all of it," Moore said. He added that he and his wife plan to travel for about five to six months after his retirement and then he'll have another job to do - that of grandparent. "My son who's a firefighter in the city and his wife are expecting our first grandchild in May," Moore said with a smile on his face. "So we'll have a grandson when we get back." [rc] F.M. Wiggins E-Mail:fwiggins@progress-index.com Copyright ©2009 The Progress-Index