Our Opinion: Chief contribution: Commitment amid change

Bob Rennick recently ended his career with an organization that began as the Career Fire Department.

He retired Friday after serving more than 33 years as chief of the Jefferson City Fire Department.

During that third of a century, fire fighting and the local department both have changed significantly.

Today’s firefighter does more than what the name denotes. Firefighters also serve as first responders dispatched to accidents and other emergencies.

In addition to expanded responsibilities, improvements in equipment and techniques require continual, rigorous training and practice.

Rennick, now 66, reflected on his career during a January interview.

“During my tenure,” he said, “there have been numerous changes in how the department operates, including an increased focus on fire prevention awareness, advancements in fire suppression apparatus and techniques, and the level of care provided as first responders.”

The history of the local department traces its origins to the volunteer firefighters in the 1800s and a city ordinance signed on Oct. 7, 1912, to establish the Career Fire Department.

Creation of the municipal fire department was prompted after fire destroyed the state Capitol, for the second time, on Feb. 5, 1911.

The agency eventually became the Jefferson City Fire Department and Rennick was hired as chief in 1979.

“While the way we operate has continuously evolved,” Rennick said during the January interview, “what has not changed is the commitment the department has to serving this community and its citizens.”

As the man at the helm, Rennick played a leading role in maintaining that commitment. For that and for his many contributions to our community, thanks chief.

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