March 18 • 12:10 PM

Tribute marks 47 years

Firefighter Tom Quinn honored by Almont Dept.

Retiring Almont firefighter Tom Quinn Sr. (second from left) is joined by family members Kevin Quinn, Olivia Dean, Kaitlyn Quinn, Tom Quinn Jr., Sharon Quinn, Lisa Quinn and Colleen Dean. Rob Dean and Nicole Dean were unavailable for photo. photo by Tom Wearing.

September 02, 2009
ALMONT TWP. — Members of the Almont Fire Department and Auxiliary paid tribute last weekend to

firefighter Tom Quinn, Sr. one of the department's longest-serving members.

Quinn, 70, is retiring from the department after 47 years of service, concluding a career of countless fire and emergency runs, enduring friendships and fond memories.

Firefighters gathered at the fire hall on Saturday, Aug. 29 for a dinner in Quinn's honor and to salute his contributions to the fire department and community at large.

Quinn was joined by family members, as well as other recently retired Almont firefighters, including: Don Heim, Norm Hamilton, Bill Wallace and James Parsons. Collectively, the five men served a total of 196 years with the department.

Fellow firefighters said Quinn stood tall among his peers; both figuratively and literally. At 6-foot-9-inches tall, his physical presence was unmistakable at fire and rescue scenes.

"Tom is a very good firefighter and a good friend to me," said Asst. Fire Chief Richard Stein. "We've gone fishing together for years. As a firefighter, he's always participated whenever and however he could."

Fire Chief Paul Wayco credited Quinn with being a staunch supporter when he joined the department in 1974.

"Tom was very helpful to me," Wayco recalled. "He taught me how to drive the tankers and run the pumps. He was helpful in a variety of situations that come up in fierfighting.

Wayco noted that in recent months, Quinn had been particularly helpful following the death of his predecessor me and offered guidance during the transition period.

"He's really helpful to everyone — young and old," said Wayco, "and I know a lot of us are going to miss him. I'd like to personally thank Tom for all his years of service and for the support he has given me."

Quinn recalled that Jack Nelson was Almont's fire chief when he first joined the department in 1962. Over the years, he has witnessed many changes and advancements in training, equipment and technology. He said he wouldn't change a moment of the experience.

"I've enjoyed every minute of this," he said. "Every run, every meeting, all the classes we took, and all the guys I've met. It's been a lot of fun.

"Firefighters are a funny breed," Quinn continued. "They come and they go, but there's a common bond among us. It kind of grows on you. Once you get your first year or so in, you don't want to leave."

Having participated in many memorable fire and emergency situations, Quinn can tell his share of stories about helping save lives, homes and people's personal possessions.

One particularly unusual emergency response jogged his memory on Saturday.

"I remember we had to get a guy out of a tree at the old Almont airport," said Quinn. "He had parachuted and got stuck in a tree about 40 feet off the ground. He was just hanging there.

"We didn't have a ladder truck back then," he said, "so we just had to set up a ladder and climb up to get him out."

Firefighter attrition

Because of the recent retirements and the untimely deaths of former Fire Chief Paul Wilcox and veteran female firefighter Bernie White in the past year, the Almont department is in need of new recruits.

Fire Chief Paul Wayco pointed out that serving as a firefighter is a commitment that requires hard work, dedication and perseverance.

Training for state certification as Firefighter I and II requires five months of training, two nights a week and one weekend per month.

Anyone interested in joining the Almont Twp. Fire Dept. is asked to call Chief Wayco at the fire hall at 798-8111.

"When I first joined the dept as a probationaery firefighter in 1974, Tm was very helpful in teaching me how to drive the tankers and running the pumps and he was helpful in a variety of situations that come up in fierfighting. In recent months, he has been very supportive to me and guided me after the death of Paul Wilcox.

He's helpful to everyone, young and old. I know a lot of us are going to miss him. I'd like to thank him for all his years of service and his help to me, personally.

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