Caleb Walls’ first day on the job as a Fire Trainee was August 6, exactly 28 years after his dad, Captain Clay Walls, started his firefighting career at Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department.
Clay is excited to see his son following in his footsteps.
What’s even more impressive is Clay’s father, Hencil “Hank” Walls, began his career with MFRD has a Firefighter in 1963 and retired at the rank of Captain in 1987.
Third generation MFRD employee Caleb remarks, “With the exception of a three year gap, MFRD has always had a Walls.”
“I take pride in this patch,” Caleb says as he taps the sleeve of his new department uniform. “Every morning when I get up and get dressed, I’m excited to be a part of this department…this legacy.”
Caleb also realizes he has two sets of big shoes to fill. “My dad and my grandfather are both very well-respected, “ he said. “I have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders and realize I will have to perform at a high level to meet everyone’s expectations.”
Hank, reflecting on his career at MFRD, then known as Murfreesboro Fire Department, noted the many changes that have occurred over the years. He said he never had to deal with medical calls and acknowledged that the majority of Caleb’s career will likely center around those.
When Hank started, the schedule was 24 hours on and 24 off. Clay said, “I remember Dad saying, every day you’re either walking into work or walking out.” Hank said there was no form of breathing apparatus and the only training they received the first day on the job was, “Find you a pair of turnouts and if the engine moves, be on it!” Clay reminded him, “They did show you how to slide down the pole.” Hank nodded and laughed.
Hank said when he first started at the department, only two people were allowed to live outside the city limits. There was a siren located where the Discovery Center is now. They were able to sound that siren from the fire department and if off duty firefighters heard it, they were expected to respond to the station and report for duty.
“You made just enough to put food on the table,” said Hank, “but when you got into it, you wouldn’t have any other job in the world.” Hank’s advice to Caleb? “Do the best you can, pay attention to your instructors, and follow orders.”
Clay added, “Take every opportunity offered to you to learn and improve your skill set and knowledge. Always strive to better yourself…it keeps you safer and helps you to more effectively serve the citizens in our community.” Lastly, he said, “Listen to your senior firefighters and captains…take advantage of the stories they tell…the experiences they’ve had…their knowledge; do that while you can.”
Caleb will begin a 10-week Recruit Class at the Tennessee Fire and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee next week.