Chief Bob Loomer said goodbye to Wayland Friday afternoon during a retirement reception in the garage area of the town's Public Safety Building.
A crowd of current and retired public safety officials, Wayland town officials and more fire chiefs than anyone could count turned out to wish Loomer, who became chief in Wayland in September 2003, a long and happy retirement.
Wayland Police Chief Bob Irving continued a tradition among public safety officials of a police chief “razzing” a retiring fire chief by offering Loomer plenty of memorabilia as retirement gifts.
“He’s been great to work with,” Irving added in all seriousness.
But incoming fire chief and current deputy fire chief Vinny Smith didn't let the police chief have all the fun, joking with the crowd that rumors of a "mystical, god-like captain in Maynard," preceded Loomer's coming in Wayland.
"I feel proud and honored to have served the community under his direction," Smith added. "We all thank you."
State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan took to the podium to thank Loomer for his many years of teaching at the state fire academy, calling the chief, “an integral part of the buildup of the state fire academy.”
Loomer has taught at the academy for more than 30 years and that he plans to ramp up his teaching duties again now that he is retired from his chief’s position.
According to Loomer’s wife, Julie, who was in attendance at the reception, he’ll pick up that teaching right away with a class the day after his retirement.
Julie Loomer said she is very proud of her husband and the work to which he’s devoted his life.
“He will miss it. He had a passion for it,” Julie Loomer said, adding that she never really worried about her husband because the dangers of his job were just part of life. “You have to love this job to do it. He’ll never be able to leave this environment totally.”
Loomer's adult children, Matt and Terri, also attended the reception and said they were also proud of their father.
“As a parent, you want to be able to provide for your family,” said Matt Loomer, whose son, Harrison, is Bob Loomer’s only grandchild. “Not only was my dad able to do that for our family, he was able to do that for so many other people in the community.”
The retiring chief told the crowd that he wished he could personally thank each individual for the way that person had impacted his life throughout the course of his career.
“[In 2003] I was the stranger from out of town, and I decided to take a chance on a town called Wayland,” Loomer said. “To everyone here from the Wayland Fire Department, from the Town of Wayland, thank you for allowing me into your family.”
As guests and well-wishers trickled out, Loomer prepared for his own grand exit: In the open cab of the town’s 1953 Mack fire engine. Loomer said the tradition of allowing a firefighter to ride home in the antique engine on the last day of work began some years ago, and he was all too thrilled to take part even on a dreary February afternoon.
Bundled up, Loomer waved to his colleagues as Wayland Fire Lt. Bob Dorey turned onto Millbrook Road and headed for Loomer’s Clinton home where friends and family were waiting to celebrate his retirement.