Buddy Billings remembers applying for a job with the Town of Collierville four decades ago.
As he sat in the office of first Town Administrator, he answered question after question. â€œHe grilled me pretty hard. He really did,â€ Billings said. â€œI told him I was going to be a fireman for the Collierville Fire Department, and here I am, 40 years later.â€
Indeed, 40 years later Billings is not only here, he is chief of the Collierville Fire Department and the Townâ€™s longest-serving employee.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen honored Chief Billings July 9 with a 40-year pin. Town Administrator James Lewellen said he was thrilled to have the chance to recognize Billings, who he described as â€œone of the great employee careers with the Town of Collierville.â€
A lifelong Collierville resident, Billings began working for the Town in 1978 as a dispatcher and moved to the fire department a year later â€“ and even before that, he began volunteering for the Town at age 16. As Lewellen noted, â€œHeâ€™s the kind of employee stories that people would build a community around.â€
In his time with the CFD, Billings has done just about everything. â€œFrom pulling weeds and mowing grass around the station to washing the fire trucks; heâ€™s fought fires, heâ€™s provided emergency medical assistance. He served as the Townâ€™s Fire Marshal.â€ Lewellen said. â€œHe has become a very respected fireman among everyone in the state.â€
Mark King, CFD Chief of Administration, lauded Billings for enabling the department to maintain high performance standards and an excellent level of service. â€œWe know achievement and success donâ€™t come by accident,â€ King said. â€œBreakthroughs come after spending hours of hard work trying new ideas.â€
For Billings, the tough work of being a firefighter, paramedic, inspector, fire marshal, chief, etc. has flown by.
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â€œIt seems like yesterday. It really has flown. Where does time go?â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ve been given a lot of tremendous opportunities, and I just want to thank everybody.â€
He added, â€œIâ€™ve got a few more years left.â€
Board members applauded that promise and Billingsâ€™ career so far â€“ as Lewellen noted, itâ€™s hard to imagine anyone giving more to public service. â€œTonight we get to travel down memory lane with Buddy and 40 years of incredible service to the Town of Collierville â€“ 40 years of living, eating and breathing the Collierville Fire Department,â€ he remarked.