Pauls Valley Democrat
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
There are quite a few individuals who have made a living out of setting trends, but Pauls Valley Fire Chief Joe Eddy not only made an impact through examples over the years, there’s a high bar set as he is calling it a career May 31 after 26 years.
Since Eddy started at the PV Fire Department on August 14, 1986 he’s managed to form some of the most solid working relationships in town; from the time he was a volunteer to being a paid employee in 1989 to becoming chief in 2003.
In fact, though he considers all of his peers equal whether or not they get a paycheck, he was the first volunteer to become a paid employee in town and later chief, eventually leading to many more to follow similar aspirations.
“That’s why I don’t like the word volunteer, these guys are all firemen. They take just as big a risk as the firemen in Oklahoma City and face the same monster,” said Eddy, who was hired by Buck Pearson.
“We’ve got 16 volunteers, you couldn’t do it without them... That’s the backbone of the department.”
When Eddy first moved to Pauls Valley in 1984, his career path hadn’t quite gone toward the emergency response field and he had actually opened a convenience store/service station. However, it was a close friend and neighbor of his from Oklahoma City that first inspired him to eventually go this direction and leading to quite a few answered calls for help.
“My interest in the fire department came from a very close friend,” said Eddy. “Not one time have I dreaded coming into work.”
Some of Eddy’s proudest moments included involvement in the formation of the Garvin County Fire Chief’s Association and implementing education programs like teaching kids fire safety prevention.
The former has allowed fire departments in all the area’s communities to come together to better respond to disasters as one entity and the latter has actually led to a significant decrease in child set fires.
Though there has been quite a few changes since Eddy joined, he believes that most of it has been for the better.
What he’s noticed most are some of the tactics used responding to blazes and far better safety equipment than his first years.
“It’s really improved the fire service in the whole county,” said Eddy in a recent press release on his retirement. “When I started out it was like I had a bunch of brothers, now it’s like I have a bunch of sons.”
The love of the line of work has also spread to other members of his family like his son Trey Eddy, who works for the fire department in OKC, and a nephew Chris Hudson, who does the same in Midwest City. His son has done that work for almost 13 years.
For the moment, Assistant Chief Mark Norman will take over as interim fire chief, and Eddy noted he has every confidence and hope he will take it on full time eventually.
For all the men he has served with he has nothing other than compliments and said the only reason he retired was it was just time after going back and forth for the past few years.
The plan now is to actually settle down with his wife Connie around the Rodgers, Arkansas area where he will do plenty of fishing and relaxing. There is some family in the area and the goal is to be moved over there by June 7.
“The biggest thing I’m going to miss are the men here, the station life,” said Eddy, noting how his wife has been ready longer, retiring before him.
“For the last 26 years I haven’t felt like I had a job, I just felt like I had something I love to do... I haven’t stayed because I think they’ve needed me, but because I love it.”