Waxahachie Fire Department Pump Engineer Randy Johnston was given the ax by his fellow firefighters on Friday night. A decorative fire ax was presented to Johnston to honor his 25 years of service to the department at his retirement ceremony.
Family, friends and fellow firefighters gathered at Station 2 to mark this milestone in Johnston’s life. Johnston joined the department in December 1988. Prior to joining the department Johnston worked for himself and was looking for a career change.
“For years I was driving by the fire station and said that I would like to do that. I had several good friends working at this fire station, so I went to fire school. I tested around and I was lucky and got on here,” Johnston said. “It is the greatest job in the world. Everything falls around helping somebody else and that is what I like.”
Johnston said during his time at the department there have not been a lot of big changes that have happened, but a lot of little ones that have added up over the years. These little changes have helped to shape how firefighters do their job in the city.
“When I came to work here the equipment was way outdated. A big change was going up to good equipment,” Johnston said. “We went from doing everything on pencil and paper to doing it on the computer. Technology has also changed so much in the way that we fight fire.”
Johnston said there have been a lot of memorable moments and calls that he has run on over the years. Some calls have been good, some sad, some bad and some funny. But the main thing that he is going to miss is the camaraderie with the firefighters here at the department. Around one-third of your time is spent away from home working at the department and the people you work with become family, he said.
After his last shift on Monday Johnston plans to spend time building his business builds and installs them and installs gate openers. One of his gates he built are the gates to Richards Park Baseball Field in located on Hawkins Street. That wrought iron features the Waxahachie High School 'W' located at the baseball field. He also plans to spend time working with his cows on his property.
For people considering entering the fire service as a career, Johnston said the rewards of giving your time will come back in payment as, if nothing else, in your heart.
Along with the decorative fire ax, Johnston was present with a shadow box and his pump engineer’s helmet. The shadow box contained the patches he wore, his badges, his helmet shield, his identification tags and his department portrait.
Members of the department were given the opportunity to speak during the evening. Capt. Jon Wilson expressed his thanks for the opportunity to serve with Johnston. Following Wilson, firefighter after firefighter expressed how Johnston has always been there and that he will be missed at the department.
After the ceremony, concluded Battalion Chief John Rodgers made a call over the radio to announce the retirement of Johnston and thank him for his 25 years of service with first responders across the community listening.