Fire Chief To Retire After Four Decades On Job

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After 40 years in a job he never really thought he’d have as a youth, a local department head is retiring from the profession of being a firefighter.

Robert Troxel, 65, was an electrician at the Athens Mental Health Center after serving in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He was approached by a cousin in 1973 who asked him to take a firefighting exam with him. Troxel had the highest marks on the exam and was offered a position with the Athens Fire Department.

After 13 years on the job, Troxel was named chief of the department. Four decades after first stepping foot into the fire department, Troxel will officially retire in March.

“It’s been a really rewarding experience,” Troxel said. “It’s rare that you get a position where you are able to shake hands with presidents, vice-presidents … people from national and international places.”

Even though he told The Messenger he is set to retire, he has yet to send the city his official notification.

He has been working with Lt. Robert Rymer since Rymer finished first in the chief’s assessment test. Rymer has not officially been offered to take over for Troxel since the job has not yet been vacated but he has already taken note of the effect the current chief has had on the department.

“(Troxel) has done a great job making sure the department stays what it is today and made sure we had the staffing and equipment that we needed,” Rymer said.

Troxel earned degrees in Fire Science, Fire Engineering and Environmental Studies from Hocking College, the University of Cincinnati and Ohio University respectively. He is also a Hocking College trustee.

He enjoyed his job as firefighter and fire chief because it gave him the opportunity to have the hobbies he loves, hunting and fishing. With his retirement, he plans to do more of that.

Troxel owns a 30-foot boat on Lake Erie that he uses to take groups of people out on the lake to learn about the water and fishing. He previously told The Messenger that he’s always been an outdoorsman and that he’s fished professionally for more than 20 years all over the country.

As he approaches his retirement, Troxel fondly looks back on the years in the career he didn’t expect.

“I was fortunate to get into this, this work has a lot of benefits,” Troxel said. “It was a good way to go.”