After 37 years, Carroll’s Creek fire chief hanging up his hat
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Karnera Gafford
The Carroll’s Creek Fire Protection District is losing a longtime member this month, as Fire Chief Tom Clarke retires after 37 years.
“I am honored to have been able to have done this for all these years,” Clarke said at his retirement party May 3. “God has kept me in good shape so I could do it”
But Clarke didn’t just work for the district. In fact, he founded it after going through an experience no one ever wants.
“My barn burnt down,” he said. “I didn’t have a fire department to come put it out,and so I found out we could start a volunteer fire department.”
The rest is, as they say, history. Now, the Carroll’s Creek Fire Protection District has three stations and serves around 16,000 people in Tuscaloosa County.
“I am proud to give them the help they need on the worst day of their life,” Clarke said. “That’s what we tried to do.”
Co-workers, local and state officials and plenty of friends came out May 3 in support of Clarke and his accomplishments, as well as to say a hearty “thank you” for everything he’s done for his community.
“I joined when I was 16 years old and I have always looked up to him,” said Carroll’s Creek Fire Chief Keith Hamner, who’s taking over for Clarke. “He’s been a role model, no doubt, and I am hoping to be able to fill the shoes. I do not know if that is possible, but I am going to try my best.”
Although Clarke is retiring, he’s not sitting still, he said.
“I am still going to be around to help,” Clarke said. “And I am going to do a little traveling.”
The time off is well deserved, said Fire District Board President Dennis Sudduth.
“He sacrificed a lot of his time and energy to help the people in his community,” Sudduth said. “He has grown this department from 1984 to what it is today.”