Retirement won’t mean lazy days for James Palos.
Palos, 48, fire marshal for the City of Corsicana for nearly 24 years, is retiring Friday. He’ll take a week off to spend some time with family, and then he starts his new career in pipeline construction safety.
“You can always tell when it’s time to move on,” Palos said. “I’m young enough I can still start a new career.”
Palos started with the Corsicana Fire Department in December of 1989, and his first job was as fire marshal. He hasn’t changed departments or his job in that time.
He admits he thought about moving away a few times, but his family is here, so why move, he asked.
The fire marshal’s job is part inspector, part investigator and part community outreach. When there’s a suspicious fire, it has been Palos’ job to find out if it was arson, and if so, who and what caused it.
“With this job, you’ve got the fire end of it, and the police end of it,” he said. “Digging through fires and trying to find out what caused them.”
The aspect he won’t miss are the late-night phone calls that alert him to a fire he’ll need to investigate. In the more than two decades he’s been with the service, he’s responded to train derailments, house fires, downtown fires, brush fires and more.
His first fire in December of 1989 was a house fire. The owner was a woman with a slew of cats, he recalled.
“It was cold that December, cold and freezing, and I thought ‘what am I doing?’” Palos said. “I’ve been here ever since.”
Among the many changes he’s seen in the department, possibly the biggest impact was the addition of the ambulance service. In the early ‘90s, the fire department made about 125 runs or responses to emergencies each year, or 20 to 30 per month.
Now, the addition of the ambulances means the responders makes thousands of runs a year.
In his nearly 24 years, Palos has seen 76 fire employees leave the department. And he admitted, it’s the people he’s worked with that made the job so enjoyable, and it’s the people he’ll miss the most.
“Some of these guys I’m going to miss, and for awhile when I hear a siren I’m going to be looking,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to something new. “It’s going to be fun.”
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at email@example.com. Want to “soundoff” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com
A retirement party for Fire Marshal James Palos will be at 2 p.m. Friday in the council chambers of the Government Center, 200 N. 12th St.