The Cairo Fire Department’s chief officially announced his retirement this week.
Jim T. Fielding, 67, announced he would be retiring from the fire department after nearly four years of service to Cairo.
On July 19, 2010, Fielding officially took the position of fire chief in Cairo after former chief Don Towne resigned in June of the same year.
When Fielding took the position, he was a anxious because of his age — but with 46 years of fire department experience —he delivered exactly what Cairo needed.
According to City Manager Chris Addleton, Fielding has been a true asset to the Cairo Fire Department.
He said, “Chief Fielding has had a great positive influence on the fire department. He has improved it greatly. We certainly wish him the best in his retirement.”
Some of the many accomplishments Fielding has made include constructing a fire department training facility; acquiring $350,000 in firefighter grants; taking the city from ISO 4 to ISO 3, greatly benefiting citizens through lower insurance rates; and encouraged the paid firefighters in the department to seek higher education.
He has been a mentor for the firefighters, too.
When he began as the fire chief, only two firefighters had Fire Science diplomas. Today, however, with a staff of 17 paid firefighters and 15 volunteers, three have Fire Science degrees and three more have Fire Science diplomas. Currently, four firefighters are enrolled in college courses to further their education.
Mayor Bobby Burns Sr. said, “All I’ve ever heard is great things (about Fielding). The city hates to see him leave.”
Fielding was born and raised in Thomasville and began his career at the Federal Fire Service. He worked for both Albany and Jacksonville, Fla., where he excelled. He worked his way up from a rookie firefighter to an assistant fire chief.
During his time there, Fielding responded to emergencies by providing extinguishment and rescue duties — along with performing daily maintenance of apparatuses and facitilites —and fire prevention inspections.
For 15 years, he worked with the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany.
It was there that Fielding served as fire chief and supervised fire, emergency medical and prevention services. He was also in charge of 36 full-time personnel.
At Moultrie Technical College, Fielding was a fire science coordinator for two years. He developed curriculum, taught students in fire science courses and recruited.
He also served as a county fire chief for Lowndes County from August 2000 to June 2008. Fielding supervised daily operations of 17 fire stations, led 14 full-time and 198 volunteer personnel.
Fielding views his time in Cairo as the highlight of his career.
“Any supervisor is as good as those he’s surrounded by, and here in Cairo I’ve been surrounded by the best a chief could ask for,” he said.
Fielding’s plans are to retire with his family to New Mexico where his daughter lives.
He said, “I plan to play with my grandkids before they turn into teenagers — and ride my motorcycle a lot.”
According to Addleton, a new fire chief will be announced soon. Fielding’s last effective day is March 7.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.