In a brief, but emotional ceremonial send-off Friday afternoon, retiring Kelowna fire chief Jeff Carlisle saluted his firefighters one last time.
Then he climbed aboard a firetruck with its lights flashing and and siren sounding and was driven away, bringing an end to an illustrious 43-year career as a firefighter.
Carlisle was clearly emotional as he took the final salute, having walked a gauntlet of appreciative uniformed firefighters standing at attention.
“He’s an emotional guy,” said interim KFD chief Lou Wilde when asked about Carlisle’s departure.”For the last couple of weeks, since he went public with his plans to retire, it’s been tough for him.”
Wilde, another veteran fire fighter, said he’s happy to serve as the interim chief but has no plans to pursue the job on permanent basis. He said he expects there will be great interest in the chief’s job as the city goes looking for a permanent replacement for Carlisle.
Wilde said Carlisle leaves the department in good shape, was a good leader and a man who helped set up the KFD for success.
“Jeff was a great mentor and a true leader for this department,” said Wilde.
Prior to his six years a KFD chief, Carlisle served as the chief of the Vernon Fire Department and before that was deputy fire chief in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
He also served 24 years in the Canadian Armed Forces as a firefighter.
Earlier this week he said he it will feel strange to wake up Saturday morning and not be tied to his pager to respond to a fire call.
“I’ll get to sleep in,” he joked.