MT. VERNON — Chief Michael Huntman will retire from the Jefferson Fire Protection District at the end of this month after serving more than 30 years with the department.
Huntman, who has been chief for about 19 years, said he looks back fondly on his time with the JFPD, but that he now hopes to do something “totally different.” His last day with the district is April 30.
“After 30 years, you max out your pension. That and it’s time to do something else,” Huntman said. “Let somebody else take command of the district.”
Jefferson Fire Protection District is a volunteer/paid district. It includes about 30 volunteers, four paid officers and one part-time secretary.
It is one of the largest fire districts in Jefferson County, Huntman said, covering a 220-square mile area. JFPD has fire stations in four locations — Mt. Vernon, Dix, Opdyke and Ina.
“We rely heavily on the volunteers. They’re an outstanding group of people,” Huntman said.
Huntman said he has not yet decided what sort of job he will pursue once he retires. However, he did say it will likely not be in the public safety field.
“I’ll look for something else,” Huntman said. “I want to enjoy the time off I have, though.”
Looking back on his years at JFPD, Huntman said he has seen quite a few changes.
When he started with the district, volunteers did not have to be certified. Now, though, the district mandates they be certified in firefighting, which involves completing a course that includes a practical exam and a state test.
This change has had a positive effect since now firefighters have more knowledge about building construction, fire behavior and other issues, Huntman said.
“It makes everybody a little bit safer,” Huntman said. “That’s the goal — everyone goes home at the end of the fire.”