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Tempe fire truck mechanic retires after 32 years with the city

Charlie Miller reflects back on his career with 12 News on his last day on the job with TFMR.

After working for the City of Tempe for more than 30 years, Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department is saying goodbye to their longtime fire truck mechanic who is going into retirement.

12 News spoke with Miller during his last day on the job.

“One of my first words was truck,” said Charlie Miller, who has worked with the City of Tempe for 32 years, 28 of those with TFMR as a fire truck mechanic.

Now, after a lot of time, dedication and hard work, the devoted fire truck mechanic is retiring from the Tempe Fire Department.

On any scene of a fire, what we all see from the outside looking in are the firefighters on the ground or hoisted up on equipment, often putting out the flames or rescuing someone.

But behind it all, there’s another big team, backing these crews.

“Well, if your house was on fire and our trucks were responding and it died, and your house burnt to the ground, you’d be a little upset,” he said. “Our trucks have to be perfect, so that the man on the end of the hose doesn’t get hurt and that the whole thing functions as it’s designed.”

A lot has changed over the past 3 decades.

“The early trucks had a manual shift gearbox,” he said. “We incorporated automatic transmissions, we’ve gone to a fully enclosed cab for safety.”

He has some advice for the newest members of the department.

“The better our engineers are, the easier our job becomes,” said Miller.

Now in retirement?

“I’m going to spend time with my family,” he said. “I’m going to get to my honey-do list around the house.”

Miller is also going to stay involved with the Arizona Fire Mechanics Association, the Arizona State Fire School and the National Emergency Vehicle Technician Certification Commission. That’s the national board that trains fire mechanics, so he’ll still have a full plate.

“I’m going to remember most the pride that I feel and the dedication for the guys that I work with,” said Miller. 

The department is going to be naming one of the bays in the garage after Miller in his honor. 

Congratulations on your retirement!