By Owen Woods | firstname.lastname@example.org
DON Chapman and Tony Bobicki are moving on from fighting fires. The two firemen have a combined 76 years of firefighting experience. They’ve served as chief and assistant chief for 17 years.
Staff at the city threw the two a retirement send off at city hall Thursday evening. The ceremony served to honor the men and years of firefighting.
City Manager Heather Brooks said she commends the chief for all of the relationships he’s built and maintained and how he prides himself on the safety of his crews. Chapman’s “passion project” she said was establishing a regional training facility. Before the training center was built, crews and volunteers would have to travel to Ignacio.
Brooks also hinted at an idea Alamosa’s new fire chief, Bill Stone, shared with her: to name the training center after Chapman. Brooks said “it hasn’t been finalized, but that is because of Chapman’s personal investment in the facility” it sounded like an idea that would be meaningful to him.
“Don has provided a great amount of leadership and mentorship to the members of the department. I know that you guys know that he’s someone that would equally tell you if you’ve messed up or if he’d be there if you needed help. He’s been that kind of leader,” Brooks said.
She presented him with a gift from the city: a historic photo of downtown Alamosa.
“Tony told me to keep this short and sweet,” Chapman said. Before he spoke again, he took a long moment and jokingly said, “We’re done.”
Chapman, holding back tears, said “He’s been my right hand guy. All these stupid ideas I get, ran past Tony. I can’t say enough about the guy.” He thanked everyone in the room for their support.
Fire department Lieutenant Zach Cerny and Captain Devin Haney presented Chapman and Bobicki with a plaque and a set of watches from the county fire protection district. Haney thanked the two men for the service and mentorship.
“You’re gonna be sorely missed as well. It’ll be interesting showing up to the first few calls and not seeing you around. But don’t be worried, I have your phone number and I’ll still call you. When I don’t know what to do, there’s a chance you’re probably still gonna get a jingle,” Haney said.
Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman said, “When you talk about the epitome of leadership, you’re talking about these two right here.”
At this point in the ceremony, the police officers attending had to leave in a hurry. A call of a shooting had come in. The firefighters would follow soon after.
“I’m glad that he chose me. So thankful. And to speak about his dedication,” said Chapman’s wife, Debbie Chapman, “we almost didn’t have a wedding, because of fire.” Fire truck sirens wailed in the background as she said this. “He always talks about how much he cares about the safety of his firefighters.”
Incoming fire chief Stone was aware of the shoes he’ll have to fill. “I only hope that I’m able to do half as much as what these two have done…. I’m very honored to be here, and wish them the best in their retirement,” he said.
Finally, Bobicki’s father, Tom Bobicki, came up and spoke about his son’s career and dedication. “I just think we have to appreciate the fireman at all times… These guys don’t get paid a lot of money and they get called at all times. How would you like to be sleeping, about 2:30 in the morning, 25 below zero outside and get a call. You guys are something else–”
Almost as if on queue, the call of duty came for the chief and assistant chief, cutting the ceremony short.