EAST HAVEN — After 33 years and three months on the job, Fire Department Battalion Chief James Oca is retiring — but you can bet that Oca, an accomplished photographer who also teaches first aid and CPR, will be keeping plenty busy.
After all, he’s only 53.
“It’s definitely bittersweet. I hate to go, but I think it’s time,” Oca said Tuesday. “Thirty-three years — it’s now a young man’s job and I think I’m ready to give it up.”
He said he made the decision back in August. His official retirement is at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, but he worked his last shift Oct. 11.
While he’s leaving the Fire Department, “I teach first aid CPR and OSHA trainings all over the Northeast” and “I’m going to keep doing that,” Oca said. “I have my own company” and he does instruction for the American Heart Association and Medic First Aid, he said.
Oca is one of four East Haven Fire Department battalion chiefs. For the time being, there will be three.
“We’re going to miss him around here,” said Fire Chief Matt Marcarelli.
“Jimmy Oca is a 33-year firefighter serving the last 27 as a battalion chief,” Marcarelli said. “He has numerous accolades and awards to his credit but he will be most certainly be remembered for not only his community involvement and the enthusiasm he brought to work every day.”
Oca “served as a volunteer before being hired on as a full-time firefighter” and “he was a pioneer in taking on emergency medical services, which had really been a driving force behind Fire Department operations since,” Marcarelli said.
“Jim knows every person in town and has shared many tragedies with the townspeople during the course of his duties, but he always did so professionally and with skill,” he said. “He will especially be missed around the kitchen table where he and his crew tried their level best to solve the worlds problems.”
Oca “is a proud and dedicated family man and worked many long hours away from that family to ensure they were well taken care of,” Marcarelli said.
“As chief, Jim certainly made my job easier and for that I am thankful,” Marcarelli said. “His contributions for over 30 years to the town and the department will not be forgotten and the department wishes him well in his next adventure.”
Oca said he will be busy even when he doesn’t leave the house.
“I have a lot of projects around the house to get done, too,” he said. As for his wife, Kim Oca, “She already has the list ready,” Oca said.
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