58-year-old Bob Akey is hanging up his helmet after 27 years at the Merrill Fire Department.
"This is the Lincoln County 911 communication center to all locals. The Merrill Fire Department announces the retirement of Captain Bob Akey at 0-700 hours August 13, 2014."
A moment marking the end of Bob Akey's nearly three decade career, keeping his community safe.
"Like my mother would say I have a good guardian angel over the years," said Akey.
Akey is known for his sense of humor.
"My name tag used to be there but somebody took it down," said Akey.
"His nickname is slug. He hates being called Bobby," said Merrill Fire Chief, Dave Savone.
For Akey, the Merrill Fire Department is his second home.
"A lot of mixed emotions, I'm going to miss certain people a lot of good memories with the guys," said Akey.
Memories starting in 1987. Than working his way up the ladder from a firefighter to a lieutenant to a captain. Now he can reflect on those times both good and bad.
"We went upstairs and the fire just had us pinned to the floor, we were fortunate that didn't blow back on us," said Akey.
"Very rewarding helping people," he said.
As his career winds down, Akey walks to engine two and past his empty locker.
"It's just time, it's the energy level I find myself struggling a lot of times to get up I just don't have that energy, that pager going off it's easier to shut off now than it is to respond to it," said Akey.
Akey worked with four fire chiefs and 53 firefighters in his long career.
"For myself I retired from a suburban Chicago fire department and so myself I've been reliving some of my stuff I went through 4 years ago when I left there, I can appreciate what Bob's going through right now," said Savone.
"What will you miss most about this place?" "The guys, I will probably be knocking at the front door every once in a while checking up on them and touching base and consoling them," said Akey.
So while Akey packs up all he has left at the station, and says goodbye to his second family, no more fires to put out, just three decades of memories to rekindle.
"The Merrill Fire Department wishes him well in his retirement and thanks him for 32 years of service to the community. Good luck Bob, Lincoln clear."
Akey says he plans to get a puppy. He say he hopes to travel on weekends with his wife and spend more time with his two sons.
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