LAWTON, OK (TNN) - After 27 years with the Lawton Fire Department, Chief Dewayne Burk is retiring.
Burk has spent nearly 3 decades with the Lawton Fire Department and has been the chief since 2013. And though he's leaving, he won't be going far as he's taking a job as the new Human Resources Director for the City of Lawton.
In 1992, Dewayne Burk was attending Cameron University with plans of becoming a dentist.
"The closer I got to establishing or determining what my long-term career goals were going to be, the fire service inched its way in there and became a reality,” Burk said.
That reality became a 27-year career.
"I came up through the ranks and enjoyed my time. I fought a lot of fire, met a lot of people. Had a hand in maybe saving a few and there were some we weren’t able to save. But all in all, I appreciate everything my career represents,” Burk said.
That career culminated with Burk reaching the highest position within the department.
"To be honest with you, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever done. I say that in a positive way in the standpoint of the challenges you face as a fire chief are unlike anything you can imagine. In our community, roughly 100,000 people depend on the services you provide,” Burk said.
Throughout that career, Burk said there have been lots of memories.
"When you think about the responses involving children, those are the hardest ones. I’ve been subjected to the loss of a loved one where it was child and I had a kid the same age. That makes it really hard because you kind of develop a tunnel vision. Those are tough,” Burk said.
But Burk said there are also plenty of good memories.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in some situations where we were able to get entire families out of houses that were involved. And had some letters from citizens thanking me for our efforts and our professionalism. I think that’s one thing with the Lawton Fire Department that really stands out is the professionalism in the community that our guys display,” Burk said.
Chief Burk says as he moves into his new role, he’ll miss the people he’s formed relationships with, but that’s far from the only thing he’ll miss. "I’ll miss the sounds of the sirens and the alarms going off. I’ll miss putting the uniform on,” Burk said.
Chief Burk said there have been tons of changes to the department over his 27 years, but none bigger than the equipment changes. He says when he first started, the fire fighters had to ride on the back of the truck whereas now they can actually ride in the truck. He said he plans on starting his new job in the next few weeks.