Ever wonder what happens to fire service members who retire? Our unofficial observations, without any formal research, include the following: some in effect "disappear" from the fire service, preferring to spend their time with family and friends, perhaps traveling and engaging in other pursuits and hobbies. Some stay connected through maintaining fire service friendships, and attending fire department functions such as retirement gatherings or dinners. Some stay engaged through teaching or otherwise providing support. Some increase commitments to charitable causes or community efforts, such as disaster preparedness or church activities.
One ongoing gathering still happening decades later was the brainchild of Tiburon Fire Chief Frank Buscher, or so we believe. This group is called ROMEOs, standing for Retired Old Men Eating Out. A related and similar group was called FELLAS, or Fire Executives of Long Long Ago. The groups appear to have been started in the 1970's or 1980's, and included social gatherings at the Corinthian Yacht Club & Tiburon Tommies, popular spots in Tiburon and Belvedere. Dinners and lunches have been held. Today ROMEOs still holds a monthly "First Wednesday" no-host lunch with an open invitation, typically at the WildFox Restaurant in Ignacio, on the west side of Highway 101.
Read more about the ROMEO and FELLA group histories from Frank's son, retired San Rafael FD Battalion Chief Jeff Buscher. We've also posted a new photo of the Marin County FD lunch group, and hope to gain some historical information soon. Visit our page under the "Current Associations" menu, and see some great photos, including those at the most recent ROMEO lunch. Thanks to retired Mill Valley Chief Jeff Davidson for sharing the recent ROMEO photos, and to Jim Mann, retired from Marin County FD, for their group photo of a lunch last year..
It's been almost three months since our last Blog post and new content announcement. After several years of successfully posting from 1-3 Blog announcements each month, the many events from mid-September until now, including the north bay fires, have resulted in delays. We do hope to post several new stories before the end of this year, including a look at the 1964 Hanly fire in Sonoma and Napa counties. Marin County send mutual aid resources back then, as was done on a much larger scale for the Tubbs and other fires in the region this fall.
In our Hanly fire feature, you'll learn, for example, about firefighters from Novato FD helping save a hospital chock full of 250 patients in Sonoma County, with help from San Quentin Prison inmate firefighters, among others. Accompanied by a brief film shot by the California Highway Patrol in 1964, this story is coming soon.
For now, with thanks to Judy Coy and the San Anselmo Historical Museum, we are sharing the oldest known photo of a major forest fire in Marin County, along with the story. This fire roared on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais over 126 years ago.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Bill Lellis & Paul Smith