Stanford fire chief announces retirement

October 05, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - After almost 18 years at the Stanford Fire Department, Chief Leroy Lunsford announced Thursday his intent to retire this month.

Lunsford made his announcement at the city council meeting, telling council members he regrets leaving the fire department.

"Existing medical conditions have worsened to the point to where I cannot continue to ... effectively carry out the duties and responsibilities that I am charged with," said Lunsford in a prepared statement.

His eldest son, Leroy Lunsford Jr., said his father deserved to retire after 18 years of working with the department and seldom taking a vacation.

"He's been a full-time employee for almost 40 years of his life, and he hardly ever took a vacation here. In 18 years, he might have taken a total of a month off for vacation. It was just time for him to retire," said Luster Jr.


Before becoming fire chief, Luster was a volunteer fireman and a Marine. During his 20 years of duty, he served overseas tours of duty in Vietnam and Okinawa.

Some of those who have worked with Lunsford said his Marine background drove him to set higher standards for them in the workforce.

"He's a good guy to get along with, as long as you play by his rules," said Lt. Chris Coffman of the Stanford fire department.

Under Lunsford's guidance, Stanford's ISO number, the fire-safety rating of the city, has improved from a 9 to a 4.

Lunsford has also helped the fire department get a new ladder truck, a new building and a thermal-imaging camera.

Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter said Lunsford's talent for leadership would be missed.

"He brought alot of professionalism to the force, and I feel like we have the finest volunteer force in the state," said Carter, " and that's a reflection on him (Lunsford) and his leadership, and the quality of volunteers we have."

During his retirement, Lunsford Jr. said his father would probably continue to paint fire-station scenes and work on his computer. Lunsford's replacement has been selected from several applicants, but the new chief has not been formally announced yet.

No matter what expertise a new chief brings, Lunsford's years of dedication will be a tough act to follow.

"We can only continue to build on what he's done," said Lunsford Jr. "The standards he set, nobody can surpass."

Emily Burton can be reached at

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