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Full house wishes Manteca Fires Randy May well in his retirement
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Chief May introduced his family members at Wednesdays celebration at the fire house including his wife Linda, his parents Charlie and Jean and son Andrew. His sister Sheryl from Lockeford was also present. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Manteca Fire Department Battalion Chief Randy May got quite a tribute with some 65 friends, family members and fellow firefighters saluting him at a Wednesday afternoon reception honoring his 27 years of service to the community.   

Well-wishers filled the department’s parking lot with some having to park on neighboring streets near the Union Road fire station that May has called his second home along with assignments at the other two stations in Manteca.

Fire Chief Kirk Waters led a brief ceremony where he explained the tradition of the fire bugle or the speaking trumpet that was used by firefighters in the early days of the fire service to communicate with each other at a fire long before the advent of the modern radio system.

The trumpets were used to signify leadership and can be seen on the lapels of chief officers – the top leaders who would make use of them – a 100-year tradition.

Waters presented retiring Battalion Chief May with a chromed trumpet some 24 inches long with a base mount to keep in his home.  The chief added that it represents May’s leadership and all that he has done for the Manteca Fire service during his tenure.

Bob Pfirmann, commander of the SAFE senior volunteer group, was next to speak about the man had done so much to assist his group in carrying out their mission.  Pfirmann, a retired New Jersey fire chief, told Chief May that he wanted him to know how much his mentoring the senior group has been appreciated through the presentation of a plaque.

Chief Pfirmann welcomed May to the “Former Chiefs’ Club” across the country. 

“Once a chief, always a chief,” he said. 

With tongue in cheek though, Pfirmann handed May an envelope.  He said it contained an application to apply for a job with the SAFE senior citizen fire support group in the community if he wanted to stay close.

Randy May has other ideas after some long-awaited travel with his wife Linda.  After that he is hoping to be involved in some fire service operation continuing to use his talents and possibly consulting within driving distance of his home in Manteca.

May thanked everyone for coming to the reception and got a little choked up in saying his brief goodbyes to the department and to his fellow firefighters.  With his wife Linda and son Andrew at his side, he proudly introduced his parents Charlie and Jean from Lodi to the guests.

He added that if his parents’ genes are any indication of his life expectancy, he will be around for a long time.  May’s dad Charlie is a former ATF agent and is in his 90s with his mother Jean not too far behind.

“It was a long time,” he said of his 27 years.  “I don’t know what I’m going to do and I told everybody I don’t know what I am going to do – just short on words now.  Thank you for the trumpet and the plaque and everything.”

He was lauded by a thunderous applause by those gathered wall to wall in the firehouse speaking well of his friendship with so many first responders.

Randy May will be hanging up his turnout gear for the last time this Sunday morning as a paramedic, firefighter and chief officer.