Saturday, August 8, 2020

Murphy’s Last Day

Michael Murphy, who as of September 1 will be officially retired as Marco Island’s Fire Chief was honored by friends, family and fellow city employees as he pulled out of Station 50 for the final time as its Chief Fire Administrator on July 31.

Prior to coming to Marco Island Murphy  had come up through the ranks of the Miramar Fire/Rescue Department, first starting as a volunteer and then entering the ranks of a career firefighter which would have him retire from a profession he will continue to carry close to his heart. 

He would receive the honor of being name Fire Chief of the Year by his fellow Chiefs in 2005, the first such honor won by a Marco Island Chief.  “It is a special award because it comes from your contemporaries in our profession and I am very humbled and honored by their confidence in me,” said Murphy 15 years ago.

Murphy is well known for his passion regarding emergency medical services.  Having been one of the states first paramedics he did much to modernize the Marco Department’s EMS component of their responsibilities to their citizens.  Nationwide, EMS has become a mainstay of fire departments around the nation as approximately 70% of calls run nationwide are EMS related and those numbers may be reflective of Marco Island’s requirements.

However, EMS was not the only passion that had driven Murphy.  In 2017 Murphy was again recognized  from his fellow Florida Fire Chiefs throughout the State of Florida as he received but another coveted award by his peers for his contribution to the state’s planning efforts to deal with Hazardous Materials Response by departments throughout the State of Florida.  As such he was named the Florida Hazmat Responder of the Year 2017. 

This was in recognition to his dedication to making significant and valuable contributions to the profession of hazardous materials response and his continued commitment to the Fire Service, the committee he sits on and to his department.

The work regarding Hazardous Materials Response is one which is not spoken about much by the public, but one that was on everyone’s mind during the BP Disaster that affected Southwest Florida just a few years ago.

Other tasks that are encompassed in that area of expertise deal with the challenges regarding transportation of hazardous cargos across the state on both interstate, urban and rural area highways.  Possible nuclear power plant discharges of radioactive materials, large oil spills or natural gas leakages on pipelines throughout the state.

Our waterways and other offshore or onshore spillages of hazardous contaminates is another area that this group of dedicated professionals may be called upon to address should a fire department throughout the state of Florida be dispatched to.  This involves leakages from barges, oil tankers and fires on vessels and those discharges that may be associated with them.

They also must be prepared to respond to incidents as relates to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), should that unfortunate scenario become a reality within the State of Florida.

The challenges of dealing with hazardous/material incidents is just another area of the complexed nature of what faces today’s fire/rescue professionals in 2018.  Murphy’s work, along with that of his colleagues insures that the men and women in the fire serviced of today are prepared to meet those challenges that the general public are unaware of.

He and his wife Barbara went wheels up on Saturday as they flew toward South Dakota to meet Barbara’s sister and husband.  They are co-owners with them on a 40 ft. Class A motorhome and the Murphy’s will take an extended driving vacation through some of the nation’s National Parks.  

Approximately 35-40 people showed up on Friday to wish the Murphy family the best of luck on a well-earned retirement, but Murphy would continue to let his friends know that this wasn’t goodbye, but just another chapter in the Murphy’s life.  Their intent is to stay local and involved within their “hometown,” as they describe Marco.

The icing on the cake for Murphy that day was strapping his grandkids into the jump seats of Engine 50 and driving himself and them home.  Of course, there was quite a little bit of good-natured ribbing as Murphy would search for the controls on that piece of apparatus which would take him out into the next chapter of his life. 

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