Firefighter commemorated after four decades of service

By Brady Talbert / Staff Writer

PELHAM “Incredible” was how Brian Cleveland described the retirement reception that honored his 39-and-a half-years of service to the Pelham Fire Department.

“Thank you” for “allowing me to serve,” Cleveland said, and added he appreciates the department for “giving me a job as an 18-year-old kid,” and the city for the chance to “do what I love to do.”

Cleveland started his career as a volunteer at the station in high school, until March of his senior year, when he was hired by the department as a firefighter. After some schooling, he became an EMT basic, then an EMT intermediate, which Cleveland said handles most of the medical calls in Pelham. In March 1982, he became a paramedic, until 1994 when he was promoted to the position of lieutenant. In 2002 Cleveland became the station captain, then in 2007 he was given the position of EMS director, where he served over 10 years. But on Monday, June 18, Cleveland celebrated his retirement as division chief, as well as nearly four decades of service to the city.

For those who have witnessed Pelham’s Christmas tree lighting and have said hello to Santa, Cleveland may look familiar. He was the man under the beard for the past 22 years.

At the reception, Representatives Matt Fridy and Arnold Mooney presented a resolution honoring Cleveland, the fire department awarded him a trophy and Mayor Gary Waters declared the day “Brian Cleveland Day”.

Waters said the retiree has “been a solid, dedicated employee for 40 years, and we’ll miss him.” “It’s unusual for someone out of high school to retire from the job they got out of high school,” Waters said, recognizing Cleveland’s dedication to stay in one place. He said Cleveland filled an interval leadership role at the station, and his years of service were remarkable.

With his new free time, Cleveland said he will work on his wife’s “honey-do” list and he plans to do work at his church, the First Baptist Church of Pelham. “If God wants me to do something else, then he’ll provide it and I’ll do that,” he said.