The first volunteer fire department was an invention of Ben Franklin. In 1735 he wrote in his newspaper that Boston “has a club or society of active men belonging to each fire engine and whose business is to attend all fires with it, whenever they happen.”
We congratulate and celebrate today the service of Chief Chuck Hampton as he retires from the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department after 37 years of service. The City of Dallas has been privileged to have Chuck devoted to it for 37 years. He has helped shape and lead what defines the department today. He was only 20 when he hired on in 1983, and wasted no time rising through the ranks. In 1989 he was the youngest Lieutenant on the department and would remain so for years. Over the course of his career he would spend 24 years fighting fires in Emergency Operations, but also spent 7 years as a Shift Duty Officer in Fire Dispatch, 3 years as the Section Chief of Special Operations and 3 years as the Section Chief of Geographic Information Systems. He now retires from the department as the chief of Battalion 5, A shift.
When asked to make a statement about his career for this announcement, Chuck quoted Kurt Vonnegut: “I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine” and he then elaborated in his own words “when you strip the fire service down to its essence, that’s really what it’s all about; that’s what drives us into this life of service, and paradoxically, this sacrifice enriches our own lives; it imbues our lives with meaning, purpose and satisfaction, and I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to be a part of such a noble endeavor for so long.
Museum President Battalion Chief Trixie Lohrke congratulated Chief Hampton and shared that, “Vince Lombardi said, "The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." I commend you for 37 years of dedicated service to Dallas Fire-Rescue. You can be proud that you have served the department well. I have been fortunate to get to work with you on the department and know that you have left a legacy of positive changes. I look forward to continuing to work with you at the Dallas Firefighter's Museum.”
In his retirement announcement that was posted on the Dallas Fire Department website, he requested that in lieu of a retirement gift, that any donations be made directly to the museum to help fund the projects he is working on for us. That can be done by mailing a check to the museum or by credit card donation on our website. Be sure to put “Chief Chuck” in the memo box so we know it goes towards the Film and Photograph Restoration and Digital Archiving he is working so fiercely on.