After 40 years with Dawson County Emergency Services, Battalion Chief Doug Wofford is retiring from his firefighting duties.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Wofford said. “I still enjoy it, but it’s just time for a younger person to take over.”
On Dec. 19, Wofford’s retirement was honored before the Board of Commissioners’ voting session, giving the DCES department an opportunity to send Wofford into retirement with their thanks and well wishes.
Wofford began his career at the age of 21 when his brother-in-law, a chief at Station 2 at the time, talked him into becoming a firefighter. He’s been serving the people of Dawson County ever since.
Being a firefighter 40 years ago was a much different experience than it is today, Wofford recalled as he reminisced the days of funding the department through chicken-cues and fundraisers.
“When I first started out I was at Station 2 which is still around but we had to raise our own money to buy our fuel and buy our trucks and buy the gas to heat the station with, insurance, the whole nine yards,” Wofford said.
Emergency personnel were responsible for raising money for their operating costs as well as purchasing new equipment. Wofford remembers when the county began contributing about $3,000 a year for operating costs. Now, the county purchases new firetrucks and equipment through special sales taxes.
“It’s unreal. It’s the difference between daylight and dark,” Wofford said. “The new people now don’t realize how good they’ve got it compared to what we had to start with…We’ve had a lot of really great chiefs that have really done great jobs. They’ve provided for anything that we’ve really needed.”
It didn’t matter if Wofford was jumping into an old firetruck or a brand new one, though; what mattered most to him was that he was able to help someone in need.
The feeling of knowing he helped someone is what Wofford thinks he will miss most from his career.
“I’m not one for recognition. I like to help other people and give, but I don’t like to receive. That’s just not my type. That just ain’t me,” Wofford said. “If there’s anything I can do, anytime, I’m more than willing to help anybody at any time that I can.”
Though there were a lot of heartaches in his job, there were also a lot of good times; it was often a rollercoaster of emotions for Wofford, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world.
“I still get a rush when I hear the tones go off and I’m going to miss going on calls and helping people,” Wofford said. “I wish I was 20 years younger, or more because I love it. I do. I enjoy it probably as good as anything I’ve ever done in my life.”
Fire Chief Danny Thompson remembers being assigned to Wofford in 2013. Thompson was just starting out as a volunteer under then-Captain Wofford who guided him during his volunteer days. When Thompson became Fire Chief, Wofford was always there as a critical part of the command staff, serving as the liaison between the staff and the volunteers.
“If you ask Doug to do something, he’s on it. I really can’t speak enough about the type of man that he is, the type of person that he is and his commitment to public service. I assure you I’m a better fire chief for knowing him.”
Wofford has been married to Vickie for 40 years. They have a son, Dustin, and a five year old granddaughter, Harlee. Wofford enjoys fishing and plans to do more of it in his retirement.
Of course, Wofford will still be making time to stop by the fire stations to visit and imparting words of wisdom to the younger firefighters in the ranks.
“It takes a special person… and one person can’t do it,” Wofford said. “It takes a team, and we’ve had a great team over the years.”