Lawton fire chief retiring after 31 years of service - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Lawton fire chief retiring after 31 years of service

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LAWTON Okla_ The City of Lawton's Fire Chief for over 10 years Bart Hadley is retiring.

He's been with the department since 1981, serving the Lawton community, saving lives, and providing selfless leadership. On the January 21st he'll leave his office in the fire station on "D" avenue and take on a new role at the Comanche County Courthouse.

Chief Hadley said being a firefighter wasn't something he dreamt of doing as a child. In fact, he didn't make the cut right off the bat. It wasn't until one of the other new recruits failed his physical. The department called Hadley back, he passed his physical, and the rest is history.

Hadley and his wife exchanged wedding vows at the station on D years ago. He arrived at the ceremony like any respectable fireman would: by pole.

During his 31 years, he's braved massive wildfires and countless structure fires.

"The only one that I can recall from the time the alarm went off all the way through to the very end," Hadley said, "from getting on the back of  the truck and feeling the wind in your face, to the sirens the lights going, was my very first call back in 1981."

He recalled stories that bring back gut wrenching memories.

"We responded to the Oklahoma City Murrah Building," Hadley said. "We got there at night. Things were lit up, and it really seemed more like a movie set than an emergency scene at the time."

He recalled stories that ended in saved lives. In fact, the first life he saved was captured in a photograph. The picture was reluctantly printed because everyone thought the 18-month-old girl would die, but she didn't.

"That little girl's a teacher now," Hadley said. "She came to a retirement ceremony and presented us with a plaque about that particular event. Things like that really let you know that the job you've been doing matters."

Chief Hadley said he could not be more grateful for the last 31 years of his life. The community support, the pride and the camaraderie that comes with being a Lawton firefighter is something that will burn inside him forever.

"This job has been a blessing to me and more than I ever could have expected it to be," Hadley said. "It really has to do with the caliber of people I worked with coming up, that mentored me as I was coming through, and that are doing the job. They are protecting the citizens going out day to day, and they have been since before I became chief. They continue to do a great job today."

For now, Interim City Manager Bryan Long has selected Deputy Chief Duane Burk to be the Interim Fire Chief, there will be no final decision made until the city manager position is officially filled.

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