Long Beach fire chief says goodbye after 35 years

After 35 years and five months of service in Long Beach, Fire Chief George Bass is retiring.
After 35 years and five months of service in Long Beach, Fire Chief George Bass is retiring.

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - For more than 35 years, Long Beach Fire Chief George Bass has enjoyed serving his hometown.

"I never woke up and said, 'Man, I got to go to work today,'" Chief Bass said.

The chief has responded to more fires than he can count and has saved several lives.

"Each one of us has a Kodak memory that brings up vivid pictures of each one these calls and just the mention of it brings it back," Bass said.

He gets choked up recalling the toughest loss he endured as chief, losing his best friend Long Beach Police Sgt. Steve Morgan. The friends were together just 30 minutes before Sgt. Morgan was killed in the line of duty in 1998.

"From a tragic standpoint, that's the one that just burdens my heart daily. I drive by the cemetery where he is buried going to work and coming home and I say good morning and good afternoon, 'I love you, my brother,'" Chief Bass said.

As the chief, Bass said he prays every day that his firefighters go home at night.

"I think that was just as important as me going home to my family, and I'll still do that. That is still important to me," Bass said.

During his time at the department, he has made sure his firefighters not only had the tools, but also the knowledge to be safe. Chief Bass is proud to say most members of his team have a degree or are pursing a degree.

The chief has also had to go to bat to get his firefighters pay raises in hopes that they could spend more time with their families, instead of working another job on their days off.

"Their lives are on the line during their duty time, and I felt like they deserved the opportunity to spend that time with them," Bass said. "Even today as I am hours away from retirement, I will still go and fight for these guys. This is my family."

As bittersweet as it is for the chief to clean out his office, he told his crew he did not want a going away party.

"Everything we do here, I take no credit; it's all of us," Chief Bass said. "I could ride off into the sunset with my zero turn lawn mower and be very happy."

As for the next phase of his life, Bass said he is looking forward to being a Paw-Paw to his two young grandsons, doing more fishing and building furniture.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Brown is expected to be named the acting chief at Tuesday's city council meeting.

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