By Sonya Campbell
Harker Heights Herald
BELTON - Fire Chief Roy Harmon was the man of the hour Thursday during a retirement reception given in his honor at the Harris Community Center in Belton.
His retirement culminates a career that spans more than three decades - 28 years with the Belton Fire Department.
On Thursday, fire chiefs, firefighters and EMTs from throughout the area, including Belton, Killeen, Temple and Harker Heights, paid tribute to Harmon.
Mayor Jim Covington later remarked, "I have never seen a ceremony like that. That was amazing."
He also noted his appreciation to everyone who attended the event.
Harmon's career started in 1974 as a basic firefighter with the Temple Fire Department
He expanded his role by successfully completing an eight-hour first aid course and becoming the fire department's first paramedic. By 1978, Harmon was one of only six paramedics in Central Texas.
Four years later, he left his job in Temple and hired on with the Belton Fire Department as a firefighter and paramedic - again breaking ground as the first paramedic to serve with the department.
In 1988, he was promoted to captain of the A shift and was named fire chief in 1994.
One of the highlights of his career was being named Texas Fire Chief of the Year in 2004 by the Texas Fire Chiefs' Association. He was nominated by Belton City Manager Sam Listi. During his time as Belton's fire chief, Harmon has served as the department's primary grant writer and helped secure more than $1.7 million in funding and added personnel.
Today, the department has 30 career firefighters and about a dozen volunteers.
Another mark of success is improvement to the fire department's Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which has steadily dropped from a 7 to a 3.
An ISO rating for a community affects insurance premiums people pay on their homes and commercial businesses.
While there have been many memorable moments throughout the years, Harmon is most pleased about his department's safety record.
After retiring, he aims to spend more time with his wife Yvonne and their three children and five grandchildren.
He also plans to dabble in antiques and collectibles, hunt, fish and travel.
The couple is planning a European vacation, with stops in Barbados, Spain and Paris.
Harmon said he may also do a little consulting work in emergency management.
His official retirement date is Jan. 31.
Contact Sonya Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7585.