Plympton Fire Department has seen many changes over the past four decades. George Colby has borne witness to the last 43 years as a call firefighter. He has responded to the tones of a pager when an incident has arisen in the community.
Leaving his wife often in the night during blizzards and hurricanes, there have been many times he has been away from his family and missed many events through the years.
He credits his wife Sandi’s unwavering support as an integral part of his career. They have one adult daughter, Meagan, and a 9- year old grandson.
Holding his keys, Colby imitates his wife’s gesture as he walks through his late night calls.
“She got up with me every call over the last 43 years. My pager goes off and she is up with the lights on in the house, porch light on and my truck keys in her hand, waiting at the door to send me,” he said. The key ring has a carved ornamental firefighter hat that his wife gave him as a present.
The two met when they were in college, both then working full time in the field of radiologic technology. He asked her to marry him after two weeks of dating.
His eyes misted over as he proudly spoke about his career and the many changes he has experienced within the department.
In addition to the obvious body style in engines and ambulance designs, Colby has seen alterations in turnout gear, the way the jackets are fit alongside the nearly tripled weight of fire helmets. With progress and development in protection and flame retardant materials, firefighters have a lot more protection on calls, he said.
When I began my career I was in a long jacket and hip boots. “In the old days,” the material warned us when things got too hot, to get back. Now, the gear allows firefighters to move in closer and go further to fight a fire, he said.
He has served under four fire chiefs including Warren Borsari, the current Plympton Fire Chief.
“George is the best pump guy I have,” Chief Borsari said. Borsari described George as dedicated, but Colby replied, “I never looked at this as a job or hobby. I have considered it serving the community. It has been a calling.”
As he spoke he glanced at a paper pocket calendar, which was ear marked, full of writing and ever so slightly crinkled.
He pointed to the date of his upcoming meeting, where he will be addressed and honored as a retiree. One thing that hasn’t changed is his method of recording.
“I know the battery isn’t going to die on this,” he said shaking the paper notebook.
He does plan to stay on as an educator, teaching the younger guys, something he says he enjoys. “I am looking forward to having him teach some of the hydraulics classes. He is full of knowledge, “Chief Borsari told the Express.
Anticipating signing off from his post, Colby said, “The whole thing feels very emotional. What I think I will miss the most is the camaraderie of the firehouse along with being there to help the public. I am going to miss this something awful,” he said.