WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The New Year means new beginnings, but for a new chapter to start, another one has to end.
On Tuesday, Captain Tim Smith gave an emotional farewell, ending his 30-year career with the Wilmington Fire Department.
“This is Captain Tim Smith, signing off one last time,” Smith called over the radio as he fought back tears.
Reflecting upon his career left Smith speechless.
This beloved firefighter, respected by many, never failed to answer when duty called. In his final minutes as a Wilmington firefighter, no danger seemed quite like the unknown of what’s next.
“I’m excited, but I’m scared," Smith said. "This is all I’ve done. For 30 years, this is all I’ve done.”
For Smith, making firefighting a career was a childhood dream come true.
On Aug. 1, 1988, the dream became a reality and on Jan. 1, 2019, he remembered a meaningful career beginning with one of his first calls.
“We got busted out to a car fire on the bridge and that’s where I encountered my first victim, two weeks into my career,” he recalled.
Like any first responder, sacrifices were made along the way that affected Smith and his family.
“When I first started, my daughter would cry every day that I would go to work because she didn’t want daddy to get hurt,” Smith said. "I missed a lot of softball games and soccer games.”
But Smith found ways around those hardships, making the tough times easier for all.
He talked about his proudest moments on the job and what he will miss most. In addition to his fellow firefighters, Smith said he will miss making a difference in the community.
“Watching the impact we have on the citizens of Wilmington and New Hanvoer County," Smith said. "I love helping people. That’s my passion.”
To his fellow firefighters, Smith has been the example of what a firefighter should be.
“He’s been a tremendous leader for the city, for the department," Wilmington firefighter Eric Smallwood said. "He’s been an ambassador. He’s a fireman’s fireman.”
The fireman’s fireman was up for a laugh even on his last day when fellow firefighters greeted him with a walker for his final ride on the truck.
Through the jokes, Smith shed a few tears when it came time to say thank you.
“To the citizens of Wilmington for allowing me to serve them, my wife, and my son and daughter," he said.
Those loved ones, who have been there through it all, gathered at his home to greet him as he arrived home from work one last time.