Roanoke, VA - In less than two weeks, the Roanoke City Fire Department will lose one of its well-known leaders.
Deputy Chief Ralph Tartaglia is saying
goodbye to a department that he has served for nearly 38 years.
Monday, Tartaglia was recognized by the city for his decades of service.
Many say it is a rare feat for a public servant to serve the amount of time Tartaglia has, which made Monday's official proclamation a big deal for both the department and the city.
"It's a great, great honor for people to notice but we just did our job," Tartaglia said.
Chief Tartaglia joined the department in 1976 and climbed the ranks almost to the very top.
In the generations that have passed, much has changed.
"When I came here we bought our own turnout gear. That's how long ago it's been. But it's come a long way. The protection our people have and the equipment they have is state of the art," Tartaglia said.
Tartaglia doesn't claim any legacies, giving credit for the immense changes to the department as a whole.
"Everything we do, as firefighters, is a team effort. So everything that's done is team," Tartaglia explained.
"Just about everyone has come up through his leadership. Yeah, big shoes to fill," said Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill.
At 62 years old, Tartaglia plans to travel with his wife of more than 40 years, sing gospel music, and spend time with the grand kids. He says he feels confident the department he devoted his life to has what it needs to stay on top.
"The fire department will go one. We have wonderful, qualified people. And they'll continue doing their job serving the citizens," Tartaglia said.
Taking Deputy Chief Tartaglia's place is current Battalion Chief, Jeff Beckner.
Deputy Chief Tartaglia's last day with the department is June 30.