Local fireman retires after 40 years of service

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Franklin Fireman Gregory Day is pictured with his family during his Jan. 17 retirement celebration at Franklin Fire & Rescue. 

 

Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

Gregory Day became a fireman 40 years ago for the reason many fire fighters seek the profession: he wanted to help people. Day’s retirement celebration occurred at the main Franklin Fire & Rescue, Jan. 17, with family, friends, Town of Franklin Council members, and county commissioners attending.  

A native of the Nantahala area of Macon County, Day was one of the original founders of the Nantahala Fire Department. He started off working on the rescue squad in the early 1980s; however, seeing the need for fire services, he and a few others on the squad entered a Wachovia bank and signed a personal note to purchase a fire truck. Currently, close to 10 trucks at two stations serve the Nantahala area.

In the mid-1980s, Day moved to Franklin and worked first as a volunteer fire fighter and then as a paid employee. He achieved level II firefighter status as well as becoming trained as a medical first responder and a certified fire instructor. He retires as a chief engineer, a role in which he has managed truck maintenance and much more, including teaching fire-related classes at Southwestern Community College and Tri-County Community College in Murphy. 

Some of Day’s memorable events as a fire fighter have been a shooting case while he worked at Nantahala, the Franklin Ford fire, which he said was “challenging,” and an individual whose mower rolled over on him.

“He told me later that he didn’t remember anything about that day except for me holding his hand,” said Days, emotionally. “He was very appreciative, and it’s because of people like him that the job has been so rewarding.”

He added, “I haven’t had to deliver a baby yet … came close a time or two, but it doesn’t mean I won’t have to deliver a baby at some point.”

Contrary to what many people think, fire fighters do not rescue cats from trees. However, he said they regularly get calls to do so. What some fire trucks have begun doing is carrying an oxygen kit for pets who may have been involved in a fire. 

“We’ve saved some pets’ lives because of it,” he said.

Day has been married to Leslie, who works as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, since 1987, and they have two grown daughters, Michelle and Emily, and three grandchildren, ages 2, 9, and 12. Their oldest grandchild, Landon, lives with the couple, and Day said, “He is counting the hours and the days until he turns 14 and he can join the Clark’s Chapel Fire Department as a junior fire fighter. My daughter, Michelle, was a volunteer fire fighter when she was younger.” 

Although he officially retired from full-time duty in mid-January, Day says he will not completely retire from “helping people” as a fire fighter. He plans to volunteer for both the Clark’s Chapel Fire Department and Franklin Fire & Rescue.

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