Myrtle Creek loses fire chief of 45 years

MYRTLE CREEK, Ore. -- Bill Leming stands next to a fully restored 1947 model fire engine.

It is the exact one the Myrtle Creek Fire Department was using when Leming began his career there.

After 45 years of service, Chief Leming is passing the torch.

Like all Myrtle Creek firefighters, Leming volunteered his time.

In addition to owning his own business, Leming says being chief was a full time job. "You know, I came along as a youngster and took away from the older guys, and now I'm kind of stepping aside and letting them take over," he said. "So. it's kind of the way it works."

Leming still plans to spend time around the department and help train others.

Brandon Everitt will replace Leming as Fire Chief.

Leming says he doesn't plan on staying in bed when the emergency horn blares though. "Well, I don't have a whole lot of plans. I retired the 31st of December after 45 years of being here, but I'm still on the department," Leming said.

"I'll stay on the department and do what I can do to help them. I'm not going to travel anywhere probably, maybe some, but that's not my big plans. My plan was to quit chiefing, that was my main plan."

Leming says that volunteering for 45 years was rewarding, and a lot of work. "It's really a full time job, but I had a business in town for 30 of those years and made a little bit there, because I was close to where I could get away," Leming said. "But it don't matter what you're doing, you're a fire chief and you've got a family to raise. It's a busy thing. All the guys are."

A volunteer has to drop what he's doing and go at any given time, day or night.

That, says Leming, is what life is all about. "I think it's one of the better things that you can do for a community. I mean, all organization volunteer time is good, but at a volunteer fire department, you see every day when you do something that it's benefiting the community," Leming said.