GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Having a job is a great accomplishment, but being in a career for so long shows true passion.
Green Bay Fire Chief and longtime firefighter David Litton is retiring.
"Even through the worst of times, I never felt like I was coming to work," Litton said.
Litton is stepping down after nine years as Green Bay's fire chief and more than 40 years in fire services.
"What a ride," Litton said. "It's gone by in a flash."
Litton started his career in Illinois.
But he says being a firefighter was originally not his plan.
"I actually joined a volunteer fire department way back when because my best friend did," Litton said. "But I fell in love with the team aspect of it."
As the Green Bay Metro fire chief, Litton helped make sure every fire station has gear washers, extractors, dryers, and a second set of gear to remove carcinogens.
He says this gear was important to have after learning that firefighters were exposed to many dangerous chemicals after a fire.
"I wanted to make sure that our new generation, our younger generation didn't have that same onus on them," Litton said.
Mayor Eric Genrich says the chief also organized the merging of Green Bay's and Bellevue's fire departments.
"That also has been a tremendous benefit I think to city residents, as well as those surrounding communities."
The city is in the process of replacing Fire Stations 1 and 3 with a new station.
"I think that's a serious need," Litton said during a special Common Council meeting Aug. 16. "I think it's a fair request."
Litton says he hoped to have completed that project sooner.
"I wish I could've gotten it done five years ago," Litton said. "But it just wasn't in the cards, financially, then."
"I could always count on him as being somebody who's going to give you the straight dope on everything," Genrich said.
The fire industry is full of hard workers, and Litton says it's the people he's going to miss the most.
"Our members. Our staff. Hands down," Litton said as he teared up.
But he can walk away from the people he loves in high spirits because he thinks he's made a difference for both his staff and for us.
"I'm very proud of the fact that I've been able to stand up for them, and take care of the citizens," Litton said.
As for what's next for the chief, he is going to Tennessee. Litton says he has a house down there, and wants to spend more time with his family.