Clark County volunteer firefighter retires today at 84

Jim Randall, a Hustead Fire Department volunteer firefighter, is retiring at 84-years-old after being apart of the department for 68 years.

“I just decided in my mind that’s too old to be driving firefighter emergency vehicles,” Randall said. “There comes a time in your heart and your mind when you know you should quit.”

Randall said that he became a volunteer firefighter at age 16 because he had always wanted to do it.

His father-in-law, Robert Ehman, started the fire department in the 1940s.

As Randall worked in transportation at various school districts for 33 years, he continued to be a volunteer firefighter and respond to most fire runs.

“It’s fair to say in that time-frame he was the most active,” Bill Young, former Hustead fire chief of 45 years said. “It didn’t matter if it was three in the morning or three in the afternoon, he’d be the first guy to respond and that’s no exaggeration – even in his later years.”

Acting Hustead Fire Chief Matt Hirtzinger said, “Jim is a really great guy. Probably the only guy I know that is that age and still gets to the firehouse at the exact same time that I do.”

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Part of Randall’s quickness is the fact that he lives right down the road, he explained.

Randall told the News-Sun “there’s no doubt about it” that he will miss the personnel and responding to fire runs.

“It’s a great thing to volunteer on,” Randall said. “I would encourage any young person if they are interested when they are in high school to contact the fire department.”

He added that is why he likes the fire department so much – “The young guys that come on are respectful and do a great job.”

John Maurer, a Hustead volunteer firefighter for 44 years said that Randall was very helpful in teaching the younger firefighters because “he’s pretty much seen it all.”

“We’re going to miss the camaraderie and the stories of the big fires in the past,” Maurer added.

Along with his leadership and reliability, Randall will be missed for fulfilling the job of driving the tanker.

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“He would stay with that truck and make sure everybody had water, which obviously was very important,” Young said. “He would be very efficient in getting that truck to the scene and hooked up to the engines.”

Hirtzinger added that Randall “is one of those guys that we could always count on. You didn’t have to worry about how we were going to get there because Jim had the experience to do it.”

The Hustead Fire Department is one of two fire departments in Clark County that is 100 percent volunteer, Maurer said. The volunteer firefighters go through the same training as paid firefighters and are on duty 24 hours a day.

“All those 68 years he served without any pay,” Young said.

“That’s the way we like it. We do it for the community,” Hirtzinger added. “Jim has instilled that in some of the new guys we do have. We don’t get paid. We just do it because somebody’s got to do it.”

Randall is Hustead Fire Department’s longest serving volunteer firefighter, Maurer said.

Randall said he would like to thank his wife Shirley, the previous and current chiefs and the personnel over the many years.

“It’s been a great journey,” he said. “It really has.”