Deputy fire chief retires

Published 10:24 pm Friday, May 31, 2013

For the first time in nearly 43 years, Ed Taylor woke up Saturday as a civilian.

There was no spot in the Army waiting for him, no fires to put out, no uniform to put on and no title attached to his name, except for the best one of all — “Retired.”

The former deputy fire chief joined the Nansemond Fire Department on June 20, 1973, one day after being discharged from the Army after three years of service.



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He joined the Suffolk Fire Department shortly afterward with the merger and rose through the ranks, making lieutenant in 1985, captain in 1990, battalion chief in 1994 and deputy chief in 2002.

The last year or so, he served as the interim fire chief but was bumped back to deputy chief with the arrival of Cedric Scott in April.

“I figured I better retire before they demote me any more,” he quipped this week.

Taylor, who is 63, said he thought it would be a good time to retire with the new chief coming in. He’s looking forward to spending more time with his family, wife Anntoinette, son William, and daughters Angela and Dianna.

“I just need to get out and enjoy a little bit of life,” he said. “This is something I’ve done for so many years. My family sacrificed a lot with me working shift work.”

His brother had been in the Driver Volunteer Fire Department when they were younger, and Taylor soon joined up himself and put in four years as a volunteer before heading off to the army.

“I got the bug,” he said. “I got hooked.”

The fire service isn’t glamorous and was even less so back then, Taylor said.

“You knew when you came to work in the fire service you weren’t going to become rich,” he said. “But I always enjoyed coming to work and giving back to the community.”

Taylor recalled firefighters actually riding on the backs of fire trucks, a verboten practice these days. He has scars on his hands from burns suffered through gloves that are substandard by today’s measures.

“Gloves were not a big thing,” he said. “Back then, it was part of the job. Nowadays, we would say, ‘What happened to my turnout gear? Where did it break down?’”

Asked to recall the most rewarding moment of his career, Taylor’s answer isn’t a moment but rather a remarkable series of non-moments — not a single serious injury or death of a firefighter in the line of duty during his entire career.

“I guess you could say we’ve been lucky,” he said. “A little bit of luck, good training, and dedication by the people doing the job.”

Taylor said he is looking forward to not having to work.

“I guess the biggest thing is not having to get up in the morning and go somewhere and listen to the radio and telephone,” he said. “Being able to see how the rest of the world looks.”