- November 17, 2021
Well wishes, jokes and congratulations were all around during Monday's Longboat Key Fire-Rescue ceremony recognizing the retirement of Lt. Alan Jenkins and the promotion of firefighter-paramedic Ron Koper.
Fire Chief Paul Dezzi deemed the ceremony as "bittersweet" as one firefighter leaves their ranks and another moves up.
Jenkins was recognized for his 12 years with the department with a brief speech from Dezzi recounting his time with the department and historical markers of his tenure.
Dezzi calculated that Jenkins spent the equivalent of 146 months, 14,160 shifts and 35,040 hours with the 37-member department. He finished his employment as 13th in seniority, Dezzi said.
He emphasized the familial aspect of the department with its promise to continue as such for years to come.
"One thing that will never change is the camaraderie of the fire service," Dezzi said. "Being a firefighter means that you have a second family wherever you go."
Jenkins was gifted a photo with signatures lining the border, his jacket and gloves framed and his hat among other artwork.
Firefighter-paramedic Jeff Bullock gave Jenkins an axe on behalf of the department to symbolize his efforts and service within the Key's fire rescue.
As he addressed fellow department staff for the final time, he teared up thinking of memories and his appreciation for the individuals he met during his time serving the Key.
"I'm sad to go, but I am excited about the future," Jenkins said addressing members of the department in attendance. "I'm going to miss you guys. You are a family."
During his retirement, Jenkins plans to spend his time with his family.
Koper was promoted to lieutenant after spending eight years serving within the department. Prior to being hired to serve the island, Koper served as Manatee County's public safety director.
"I'm appreciative every day that (Dezzi) gave me a chance eight years ago to come into the fire service," he said.
He spoke of the mentorship he received from fellow firefighters, specifically Bullock, who pinned Koper's new badge on his uniform.
"I don't think I could have got a better set of guys to be working with and to bring me into the fire service," Koper said.