The city of Greensburg said goodbye to long-serving civil servant Rick Emsweller Tuesday night, sending the veteran Greensburg Fire Department (GFD) officer and firefighter off with a ceremony and a dinner at City Hall.
Emsweller, whose last official day was March 30, leaves as an assistant chief with 33 years total service.
Current GFD Chief Scott Chasteen lauded Emsweller’s level-headedness, saying he never worried about handing over supervisory duties to Emsweller.
“I never lost a wink of sleep knowing I was giving him the reins,” Chasteen said. “Rick takes 33 years of service and knowledge with him; there’s no question the city will miss him.”
The evening, according to Chasteen, included both a serious side and a “celebrity roast-like” portion. Family, friends, and current and former colleagues shared various anecdotes — both serious and cheeky — regarding Emsweller’s long service.
Chasteen noted that he and the GFD’s two other assistant chiefs undertook an extensive, in-house candidate-review process to appoint Emsweller’s replacement. As such, former GFD Captain Brian Wenning was promoted to replace Emsweller about two weeks ago. The process to replace Wenning’s vacated captain position is underway now.
“We’re in the resume process for the captain’s position,” the chief said. “We have eight strong in-house resumes we’re currently considering.”
Emsweller himself found his going-away party surreal, overwhelming and humbling.
“The mayor presented me with a plaque from the city,” he said, “and the department gave me an ax. Some of the speeches — I couldn’t believe the extremely nice things people said about me.”
Likewise, the retired assistant chief added, turnout to the event was equally overwhelming.
Emsweller thanked the city for the time they allowed him to serve and for “all the stuff they’ve done for the department.” He also thanked “all the guys at the department” for their camaraderie and for “putting up with me.”
“I want to thank my family, too,” he said, “for all the years I served — for the years they served alongside me. The life of a fire department family gets rough sometimes. You’re gone every third day and then you often come home stressed and dealing with a lot of stuff you’ve gone through and seen on the job. My family never blinked, though. They were always there for me, always understanding and supportive and encouraging. So I thank them.”
The retired assistant chief now turns his sights to outdoor activities and to working on restoring antique engines. He doesn’t have long-term plan at the moment, but expressed confidence that something would eventually come along, especially after he fully recovers from a total-knee replacement operation performed in January.
Of the job, Emsweller said he’d miss the camaraderie with other GFD personnel the most. “I won’t miss the runs so much, but I’ll miss going in and spending time with the guys every day. There was always something different to look forward to.”
Emsweller stressed though, that, although he’s leaving the department, he’s not leaving Greensburg and that he’ll still attend all the department’s various events and fundraisers. “I look forward to those,” he said.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011