Friday, May 16, 2008
Firefighter Rob West retires after 12 years
When he took his young nephew to see the fire trucks in May 1996, Rob West didn’t know he was embarking on a new chapter in life. “I was a truck driver, tool and die maker, and machinist. Those were highly desirable traits” and soon West was lobbied to join the Carlisle Fire Department. He chuckles, “Things worked out well over the years. I enjoyed many aspects,” especially “helping people in need.” West retires this year after 12 years as a firefighter.
He recalls his first fire on Cross Street. “I was as green as green gets.” He received the call at 1 a.m. and as they drove over, “It was something to see this huge orange glow in the sky.” He adds, “We stopped the fire cold.” Over the years “there were a few ‘oh my Gods’” including fires on Monroe Hill and Judy Farm Road. Another memory is the sad time after the Worcester fire, in which six firefighters were lost. West and other Carlisle firefighters provided station coverage. “That was extremely poignant. They were looking for their partners” and it was several days before all were recovered.
In every case, West says, “Everybody works together. You do your job to the best of your ability and get a successful outcome.” With his commercial license, “There’s nothing I couldn’t drive,” so West was truck operator and driver trainee instructor, along with Dave Duren, who is also retiring. Together they formed a good cop-bad cop pair, “I was tougher on the guys. Dave was more relaxed.”
“It’s a tight group of people.” West says. “We not only help others in town, we help each other.” During his wife’s recent illness, “the department as a whole provided an incredible amount of support. It’s a great group of people over there.”
Between his wife’s health issues and managing several properties for Grant Wilson, including Hanover Hill, “I’m busy. Something had to give.” But though he’s retired as an active firefighter, “I miss the guys and stop by the fire station to say hello.” He adds, “I had a lot of fun doing it. I made a lot of good friends and have a lot of respect for everyone over there from officers on down.” ∆
© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito