After 36 years serving the Neosho community, with the last 10 as a full-time city employee, Neosho firefighter Gregg Lee has decided to retire.
His fellow firefighters hosted a reception for Lee on Wednesday, his last shift as a full-time firefighter with the Neosho Fire Department.
“I’ve just enjoyed it,” Lee said. “I enjoyed helping people when they were hurt or saving their property, and I enjoyed the people that I worked with.”
However, after joining the ranks at the age of 18, Lee isn’t ready to leave the firefighting scene just yet.
He says he will continue to serve his hometown as a volunteer firefighter, just like he did when he first started 36 years ago.
Lee says he’s not sure what caused it, he didn’t have any family working in the fire service, but he became interested in firefighting early in life.
“It was just a deal that I liked,” Lee said. “I always liked to watch the fire trucks go by and when I was old enough to do it, I started.”
Lee has spent his entire firefighting career with the Neosho Fire Department, starting out as a volunteer in 1977.
In 2002, Lee moved up to full-time status.
He said Neosho firefighters work in 24-hour shifts, with shifts made up of eight personnel.
While Lee will still serve the department as a paid-per-call volunteer, he says he will miss working alongside the group he has spent so many hours with.
“You spend a third of your life with them,” Lee said.
He said department volunteers have the option of responding to structure fires, traffic accidents and outside fires, though they usually do not respond to medical calls.
“Any structure fires, any outside fires, any car wrecks, we can go to,” Lee said.
And while his retirement plans include fighting a few more fires, Lee also has some relaxing retirement plans in mind.
“Going fishing and spending time with my grandkids,” Lee said.