BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — After 40 years of service, Maumee Fire Deputy Chief of Engineering Tom Parker II has retired from the division.
His last official day of work was March 7. The position has been eliminated and the Captain of Engineering will take over those duties.
Parker became a volunteer firefighter in 1981 at the age of 19. It was a natural decision to follow a career in firefighting as his father Tom Parker was also a Maumee firefighter – serving 38 years with the division, including as the chief of engineering.
“I followed in his footsteps,” Parker said of his father. “This is like a family. We have had a lot of fun here, but we work hard, too.”
Being mechanically inclined is in the Parker blood. For 16 years, the younger Parker worked with his father at the fire station, and they also worked together at Tom Parker’s Garage, the shop his father owned on Dudley Street in uptown Maumee.
“My dad was like my best friend,” Parker said. “We worked together in the shop and we worked together in the fire department. We did a lot of things together – that’s where I got all of my knowledge from.”
The elder Parker passed away in 2013.
Throughout his career, Parker climbed the ranks in the division, becoming an EMT in 1988, a lieutenant in 1995 and then a captain in 1996.
In 2011, he became the deputy chief of engineering. In that position, Parker was responsible for ensuring that the vehicles were in working order and he oversaw the training on the vehicles. He was also in charge of the engineering squad, which consisted of eight to 12 staff members. Due to staff changes with the city, the deputy chief position has been eliminated and the captain of engineering will now take over those duties.
“There have been big changes with the vehicles going from manual to electronic components,” he said. “When it comes to fighting fires, instead of just using water, we use water mixed with air mixed with foam as the new way to fight fires.”
Parker’s own mechanical training began in high school at Penta Career Center, where he studied auto mechanics. He also completed several state training courses to fulfill his duties in the department.
In addition to his work at the Maumee station, he is also a diesel technician at Cummins, which has also required extensive training.
Maumee Fire Chief Brandon Loboschefski said that Parker’s expertise was critical in building and maintaining a working fleet of vehicles.
“Chief Parker has been our ‘go to’ for so much over the years,” Loboschefski said. “His knowledge and experience is going to be very hard to replace. He’s helped design and maintain our fleet for many years, and he knows his stuff. He’s definitely earned this time to step back and enjoy himself. We thank him for all his hard work and dedication and wish him all the best.”
Parker’s decision to retire comes from his desire to slow down a bit. At age 59, he also plans to enjoy more time in Coldwater, Mich., where he regularly spends time camping.
“Forty years is enough – there are a lot of big changes and I don’t have as much time,” he said. “I love the community and I wanted to serve the community.”