Retiring Columbia Fire Chief Lee Bergeron announces that the Columbia Fire Department was ranked the number one fire department in the state by the Insurance Services Office as fire department officials look on. (Courtesy photo)
Columbia Fire Chief Lee Bergeron is ending his career on a high note.
Monday was Bergeron's last official day as chief, but he
was at the department's Station One on Wednesday morning to give a special announcement: The Columbia
Fire Department was ranked as the No. 1 fire department in the state by the Insurance Service Office.
Assistant Fire Chief Ty Cobb attributed much of the department's success to Bergeron, who is retiring after a firefighting career spanning over 38 years.
"Chief Bergeron brought moving technology and fire service to the next level, improving the software and laptops in our engines," Cobb said.
A native of Davidson County, Bergeron worked for the Metro Nashville Fire Department for much of his career, eventually becoming District Chief in the 1990s.
came to Columbia
as chief in June 2010 and brought his
expertise and experience of working in a larger city to the department.
As cliche as the idea of firefighters being a family might sound, Bergeron
said, they really are.
And that is what he
will miss the most about his
"We work together and live together.
We watch each other's children grow up," Bergeron
told The Daily Herald
"It really is a family.
It's a bond that will never go away, when you're around people who do what you do and go through what you go through."
But the concept of family even stretches beyond the fire department into the community.
Cobb said Bergeron
was instrumental in the creation of an exhibit in Columbia
's children's museum that allows visitors to dress up as firefighters, and Osmon said the chief will always help people who visit the fire department and ask for help.
immediate family will be honored with a reception March 26 at Station 1 from 4:30-6 p.m.