By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
The Licking Rural Fire Department hosted an appreciation dinner in honor of retired Assistant Fire Chief Tim Umfleet last week. Umfleet last served as the assistant chief under retired Fire Chief Jimmie Sherrill.
Family, firefighters from the department, Licking Police Chief Pat Burton and Officer Mike Wehling, State Representative Bennie Cook and other guests joined in the tribute to Umfleet for his exceptional service and dedication to the Licking Rural Fire Department for the past 20-years.
State Representative Bennie Cook presented Umfleet with a Resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives that recognized Umfleet, who helped to preserve the safety of homes, businesses and the community and further, “expressed their utmost appreciation to Assistant Chief Timothy Umfleet for his unwavering commitment to the Licking Rural Fire Department and his community.”
Umfleet was a professional firefighter, state certified in Fire 1, Fire 2, Hazmat Awareness, Hazmat Operations, Hazmat Technician and Hazmat Incident Command in St. Louis, Branson and Ft. Leonard Wood, where he did contract work in Iraq; and was Safety Manager and Coordinator for the State of Missouri. He was also an EMT with Texas County Memorial Hospital in Texas County, Deputy Warden with the Missouri Department of Corrections, and Fire and Safety Manager at MODOC’s South Central Correctional Facility.
While volunteering with the Licking City/Rural Fire Department he was instrumental in obtaining the 1997 fire engine and the 2010 grant for structural firefighting gear for the Licking fire department and was also responsible for the oversight of the day-to-day operations of both the rural and city fire departments.
When asked why he chose to join the fire department, Tim replied, “To help the community; it’s been an honor serving the community.
“I came on to help, climbing the ranks to achieve Assistant Chief under Fire Chief Cooper (a position he maintained under Sherrill). The most important duty was just one thing, no matter what the call or how many showed up, everybody went home. When in this position you’re where your decisions can be life and death. It’s never forgotten, even when you’re on vacation or doing your shift with another fire department and you’re not there to respond, you question, ‘Did I teach them enough?’ It can be the source for sleepless nights.”
Licking Fire Chief Aaron Greathouse addressed the gathering, saying, “Tim assisted me with my career.”
“I appreciate you so much and everything you’ve done for me and the department,” Greathouse directed to Umfleet.
Sharing the good times and the other times was emotional for Umfleet, Greathouse and the attending firefighters.
This line of work is not done without full family support. Umfleet has that in the devotion of his wife, Gina, an RN and the director of nursing at a healthcare facility; daughter Ashley, 16; and sons Noah, 15, and Nathan, 12.
Tim is currently pursuing his paramedic license, which will also be utilized in the line of public service.
A taco feast, nachos and a congratulatory cake were enjoyed by those in attendance.
Photos by Christy Porter