Forty years of fire calls ended Tuesday for a retiring Nashville firefighter. Lawrence "Paul" Rainey - an engineer at Station 31 - is retiring, and the day was full of heroic stories and pride as his son follows in his footsteps.
"It's more than a job. It's basically a way of life," Rainey said.
The man, whose fellow firefighters nicknamed "Lizard," first joined the department in 1973, following in the footsteps of his father-in-law.
For the past 31 years, he's served station 31 as its engineer, which means he was in charge of getting crews to the scene and getting water.
It's not always been an easy ride, and he's had his share of close calls.
"One of the guys looked at me and said, 'What did you do to your ears?' And I went and looked in a mirror and my ears were just puffed out where they were burnt," Rainey said.
But on his toughest day, Rainey helped rescue a child.
"It was down here at Old Hickory Boulevard, where an asphalt truck fell on a car and buried a little 12-year-old girl up to her waist in hot asphalt," he said.
In his 40 years on the job, Rainey's been voted Fireman of the Year and received awards for heroism, but the biggest reward may be that his son became a third-generation firefighter.
"Yeah, he's always been my hero and always will be," said son Colby Rainey.
On Tuesday, the father and son got to work side-by-side, putting dad's words of wisdom to work.
"'Just do your work. Do what you are told and the rest will take care of itself,'" Colby Rainey said.
Always calm, cool and collected, Lawrence Rainey is eager to share work stories with his son.
"It's usually, 'Yeah, we had flames showing through the roof, and you should have seen the guys going in,' and all of this other stuff. He really likes to blow it up good. It's awesome," Colby Rainey said.
Now, maybe Lawrence Rainey can share those tales while fishing with his grandsons as the fireman turns fisherman Wednesday.
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