Four long-time Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department employees are retiring after a combined 131 years of service to the City.
Captain Keith Bratcher, Engineers Jeff Bratcher and Billy Sauls, and Firefighter Steve Melton are hanging their helmets up this summer.
“We are grateful for the years of dedication these gentlemen gave the department and the citizens of Murfreesboro,” said Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks, “and we appreciate their families for sharing them with us every third day.”
Three of the guys have already celebrated with family, friends, and co-workers. Jeff Bratcher will officially retire in August.
“They will all be missed, but they served the community well and now it’s time for them to relax,” said Foulks.
Meet the Retirees:
28 years of service
Retired: July 2, 2018
Steve began his career with MFRD in June 1990. When he was in elementary school at Mitchell Neilson, the kids would go over to the Jones Boulevard station. “They always seemed to be glad to see us,” said Steve, “and sometimes they bought us a coke.” Steve said that meant a lot to him and in 1990 he got to make his dream of working for the department a reality. Steve’s most memorable call was the Coca-Cola plant on Broad Street (now the Discovery Center). There was a fire in the basement. “The alarm came in at 7:00 pm and we were still on scene the next morning at shift change.” Steve said the biggest change he has seen over the years is the size of the department. “It’s not small anymore…we all knew each other and each other’s families,” he said. “I have had three Chiefs during my career and each one has brought something different.” Steve also noted “more equipment with different responsibilities, less fires and more medical calls.” Steve said he sees the department continuing to grow and progress in the next 5-10 years. As for retirement, he will be spending more time with his wife, family, and church and playing more golf and music. “I will also be getting a part-time job with something I enjoy,” he said.
William (Billy) Sauls
30 years of service
Retired: July 2, 2018
Billy started MFRD in October 1988. He was drawn to MFRD for the 24/48 work schedule and the retirement plan. The most memorable day of his career was the day of the Good Friday tornadoes. In his 30 years of service, he has seen massive growth in the community and progression in the department’s medical and rescue services. When asked where he sees the department in 5-10 years, he simply said, “METRO.” Billy has no set plans for retirement; he just plans to “live and love life.” Finally he said, “I hope that I have served the citizens of the Boro well.”
33 years of service
Retired: July 18, 2018
Keith joined MFRD in June 1985 because he liked to help people and loved the idea of 24 hours on and 48 off. The greatest thing for him about working at MFRD was being able to serve the community and meeting new people. His most memorable call was a tie between a house fire on Maney Avenue (30 years ago) and a medical call on Jones (a year ago). The biggest changes he’s seen over the course of his career were newer equipment and technology at the stations, medical calls and extrication, bigger/newer fire trucks, and nicer/newer fire stations. Keith projects that MFRD will become one of the biggest departments in the state over the next 5-10 years and thinks there will be ambulances in the fire stations. Post-retirement, Keith plans to “take is easy for a while,” hang out with his grandchildren, and maybe travel a little more. Keith said, “I’ve had a great career here…I loved my job, I’ve made lots of lifetime friends, and I have had a lot of great memories.”
40 (combined) years of service
Retiring: August 13, 2018
Jeff joined MFRD in January 1975, after his brother (retired Captain Larry “Big Daddy” Bratcher) encouraged him to become a firefighter. He worked until June 1987, but returned in June 1990 after realizing that being a firefighter is where he belonged. Jeff’s most memorable call was a mobile home fire on Old Nashville Highway where a young girl lost her life. “I found her in the kitchen floor,” he said. “That was pretty hard to deal with…Firefighters DO cry.” Over the years, Jeff has watched the department grow…more stations and more personnel. “When I started, all we had was the current Headquarters and Stations 3 and 4 and around 50 employees.” He also noted the addition of specialized training and the medical program. Jeff sees the department adding ambulances, offering more services, and continuing to grow over the next 5-10 years. After retirement, he plans to spend more time with his girlfriend, Teresa, and travel a bit. Jeff said, “I feel so proud to have been a member of such a great department. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. This job has taught me about discipline and compassion. I have grown up in the department…I’ve seen good people come and go, but the good firefighters always rise to the top!”