MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – All good things must come to an end, and that is the case for retiring Morgantown Fire Department Captain William Rinehart.
Rinehart has been with the department for 30 years and he said what he’s going to remember are the calls he went out on both good and bad.
Rinehart’s colleagues pitched in to buy him a retirement preset, an ax on a wooden mantle. He was joined by his wife, mother-in-law, nephew and colleagues, who he said are like an extended family to him.
“It’s a little overwhelming, I didn’t anticipate all these people showing up,” Rinehart said. “I figured it would be a crew thing and that would be it but several more showed up that I didn’t expect.”
Looking back, Rinehart said what will stand out most are all the calls he went out on, both the good and bad ones. Rinehart said he didn’t expect to be a firefighter when he was growing up.
“When I really first started setting out I wanted to be a civil engineer and of course some neighbors got in on a volunteer fire department,” Rinehart said. “I joined with them, it’s kind of like once you get the bug, it’s in you and you know and fortunately I got to come here and go through it.”
Lieutenant Mark Thalman, a 19-year veteran, said Rinehart has been instrumental in his development. Thalman said Rinehart is leaving behind big shoes to fill.
“He’s treated us well, he’s been a great leader, our ground commander,” Thalman said. “Of course, we’ve had plenty of fires under his command and fortunately we haven’t had anyone die not of our guys, of course, no fire deaths whatsoever, other than a loss of property he’s done a fantastic job for us.”
Thalman said they are on duty for 24 hours at a time, with different personalities but the captain’s firehouse managed to blend all those personalities.
“This is our second family of course, so aside from the seriousness and the fires and the emergency calls we do try to have a little bit of fun, there’s always pranks, jokes, different things that are going on throughout the firehouse,” Rinehart said. “Imagine through his career, some of the stuff that he has seen, the pranks and everything that we’ve played on him, on each other.”
Rinehart said he doesn’t know what the next chapter holds for him but he knows he will work as a volunteer firefighter in town. He also said he might start a small business with his wife.