The constant wash of time brings change on a never-ending basis.
But in Wendell, folks could always count on one thing. Tom Vaughan was the town’s fire chief. He was folksy and down-to-earth, but there was always that no-nonsense attitude when it came to things that involved the fire department.
Later this week, Vaughan will turn the keys over to a new chief – yet to be named – and leave the fire station for the final time.
Between them, the Vaughans have give over half a century of service to the town. They’ve helped to keep us safe, protect our property and our lives and they’ve consoled us when doing the first two jobs wasn’t possible.
It’s a job most of us simply are not cut out for.
Tom Vaughan has faced off with town commissioners when he felt the fire department needed new resources. He has very often been the voice of reason when tempers flared. He has worked to build a fire department that responds to each and every call with professionalism and efficiency. And he has created a family atmosphere in a place where tension and adrenaline mix all the time. The marriage of the Vaughans and the Fire Department has benefitted everyone in this town in countless ways.
Tom Vaughan has served the fire department since 1978. Retirement has been on his mind for a few years now. This year he finally pulled that trigger and, with so much up in the air at the county level about how fire departments will be managed into the future, he has chosen a good time to call it a career.
Still, it’s hard to imagine not seeing a Vaughan in that front office when you walk in the firehouse door. It’ll be hard for whoever takes his place to command the same kind of respect and admiration that Tom Vaughan has earned over a 35-year career.
Somehow, though, we suspect he may darken the firehouse door more than just a few times in the future. Only now, he’ll be a visitor just like the rest of us.
The Vaughans have earned their retirement and Wendell will be all the poorer for their departure.