Correll Gets Loving Send-off
By Brittany Givens
Hampton Union, Tuesday, April 10, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- When Jim Correll was growing up, he often got on his bike and chased fire trucks to see where they were going.
Correll, now in his 40s, grew up to be the one of the firefighters he used to chase, and last week he retired after more than 25 years of service with the Hampton Fire Department.
Correll began working at the fire department in 1983 as a call firefighter. He became a fire alarm operator in 1987 and a full-time firefighter in 1994.
In a retirement ceremony on April 2, current and retired firemen came together to honor Correll at the fire station.
"It was great to see those guys," Correll said. "They were guys that were here when I got my start."
One of Correll's closest friends in the fire department, Buck Frost, presented Correll with the flag flown over Hampton Fire Department Station 2 and Correll's helmet.
"I've worked with him since he came here about 10 years ago," Correll said. "We've been together every day. It was just awesome that he was to the one to present them to me."
Correll's group also gave him an engraved flag case.
"He served with honor and pride and the Hampton Fire Department will miss him greatly on the line," Deputy Chief Jamie Ayotte said.
The most surprising thing to Correll was when the radio went off, as it usually does when a fire is called in, but instead of calling out a fire, the striking box was calling out Correll's employee number, 322.
"I've never heard that before," Correll said. "I never thought they'd do something like that."
Correll was forced to retire after a knee replacement surgery that he had six months ago from injuries on the job. Since his first knee surgery in 1999, Correll had five more surgeries, leading his doctor to tell him that it was time to retire.
"This has been a very bittersweet process," an emotional Correll said. "I'm not going out on my terms. This is not the way I wanted to go. I love these guys and I love this job."
Correll said his fellow firefighters are more like extended family than co-workers.
"The one thing that I hope I brought to the guys is what the retired guys brought me," Correll said. "It was the service, courage, and pride that goes with the job."
Correll, the father of twins Marissa and Michael and step-daughters Paige and Jana, said that the calls that bothered him the most were the ones involving children.
"It just makes you go home and hug your kids," Correll said.
Throughout his career, Correll, along with his department, has been involved in a great deal of charity work, like Fill-the-Boot and a toy bank, efforts he plans to continue in retirement. Firefighters also spent a great deal of time playing games with senior citizens.
"In a sense," Correll said, "this is what the job is about, to give back to the community. That's what the fire service does."