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Longtime Folsom firefighter hangs up his helmet

By: Laura Newell, Of the Telegraph
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FOLSOM, CA - After 32 years of serving the Folsom community, Folsom Fire Department Division Chief Bret Worthington, 50, of Folsom, is planning to retire.

Worthington’s last day will be Friday, Dec. 21.

“I knew very early on, about 10 years old, that I wanted to be a fireman,” Worthington said. “I grew up in Folsom, so knowing that’s what I wanted to do, I started volunteering for the department while I was attending Folsom High School.”

Worthington said he volunteered at the fire department through the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) while in high school. A month after his 18th birthday, he was hired on in residential program with the Folsom Fire Department.

Folsom Fire Chief Ron Phillips said Worthington will be missed at the department.

“Bret has been a great employee for the Folsom Fire Department for a number of years,” Phillips said. “He is a great fire service leader and understands the system very well. He will be dearly missed by the employees of the department and I wish him well.”

Worthington said after volunteering and working in Folsom for more than 30 years, he has definitely seen some changes in the city and the department.

“The city has grown a huge amount and the fire department has really changed from a mostly volunteer program to a truly professional occupation,” Worthington said. “This is absolutely a positive change because fire departments now have an all-risk agency – we do everything.”

Worthington said making the choice to stay in Folsom throughout his career was an easy one.

“Folsom has always been a good place to live and work,” he said. “After watching the city grow, it’s still and has always been a home town place to work. Even our department has stayed close like a family.”

He said working in a fire department is different than most other jobs – in the department coworkers work long hours and shifts together rather than just heading home at 5 p.m.

“You spend a great deal of time with these people,” he said. “We keep a connection with people here in Folsom – that’s probably why I’ve stayed here for so many years.”

After his retirement, Worthington said he still has high hopes and respect for the city and the department.

“This is just the right time for me to retire after 32 years,” Worthington said. “I’ve watched the shrinking budget within the city during the past years, and I hope that the city will continue to provide the correct services to their residents. There have been some positions eliminated within the department, and I just hope the city realizes this and continues to provide the same services that Folsom has always provided for the past 30 years.”

Worthington said after his retirement becomes official, he plans to spend more time giving back to his community by volunteering at his family’s church, Oak Hills Church in Folsom.

“It’s a nice feeling to know that you have helped someone and hopefully made someone’s day better,” he said. “When someone is in their worst moment in their life, it’s nice to know that I can help.”

While giving back to his community is at the top of his retirement list – family has a high ranking too.

“This summer my family and I plan to travel to Costa Rica,” he said. “It will be one last family trip for us.”

He plans to travel with his wife Susie and daughters Jennifer, 25, and Krista, 22.

“I certainly could not have done this job with out my family,” Worthington said. “It took a lot of cooperation from them, especially in those early years when it was all volunteer work. Those long hours were hard on the families, when we were called, we had to go. But today calls are more divided between staff. I could not have done this job without my family. They were my rock.”