Firefighting, Leadership

Columbus Fire Captain Retiring After 40 Years

Columbus (OH) Fire Capt. Greg Lash is retiring after 40 years with the department, reports The Columbus Dispatch.

His own life and a remarkable 40-year career were almost cut short once as he leapt off a collapsing roof, clinging to a chimney as flames burst out.

Those are among the memories that will remain with Lash long after he steps out of his gear for the last time next week. His colleagues say he’s one of the most-respected firefighters in the division’s 157-year history.

Fire Chief Gregory A. Paxton calls him “a once-in-a-generation type of firefighter.”

Now 63, Lash started battling fires at age 14 as a volunteer for a small department in Belmont County. A friend said he could get paid in Columbus to be a firefighter, but instead Lash graduated from West Liberty University just across the Ohio River in West Virginia and became a teacher.

When the suit and tie didn’t mesh with his desire to be outdoors, Lash came to Columbus. A nurse helped Lash, who has had high blood pressure since his 20s, pass a physical by having him lie down in a dark room right before the doctor’s exam.

Lash became a captain in 1993. He decided not to test for higher ranks because he didn’t want to stop fighting fires.

“I never wanted to stop breathing the black smoke, I guess,” he said.

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