‘It’s not just a job.’ Jefferson County firefighter hangs up hat after 33 years

Jody Craig says in all his years of being a firefighter only one fire left him nearly speechless.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After more than 30 years of fighting fires in Okolona and Buechel, Major Jody Craig is retiring and what a career it has been for the 49-year-old.

In all those years, Craig says only one fire left him nearly speechless. It was on April 3, 2015, which was also Good Friday that year. It was the largest fire in the history of Jefferson County. The fire was at GE warehouse #6.

“Yes, you always want to think it, but you never say it. We train for that, we train for the big one.”

Craig grew up in Newburg in the shadow of GE. He started his firefighting career when he was 16 years old and was now the incident commander for “the big one,” at age 45.

“It doesn’t matter whether you were the city if you were the county everyone was working together with 675,000 square foot of a building burning and we were all trying to do one thing-contain the fire.”

On the scene as the fire grew, Craig knew he had life and death decisions to make. He started getting the first reports back from firefighters who had entered the packed storage warehouse. His biggest decision–get them out.

“There were more than 300 firefighters on the scene for more than 18 hours and not a single one got hurt, that’s the best part about it,” Craig says.

Major Craig says he spent 26 hours on the property. The fire was so big it was seen everywhere. It sent soot and floating embers into neighborhoods covering cars, rooftops, you name it.

RELATED: GE responds to complaints over bad air, flying ash from fire

And now, in what may be the most ironic part of his retirement, Craig has started his new job at GE.

“My job is to make sure security response on medical, fire and any incident inside Appliance Park with the best training we can get them,” Craig explains.

His advice to new firefighters, “love the community. Get inside of it. It’s not just a job.”

Craig saw that play out, when just before his final day, he drove through Newburg and told folks…I’m moving on. Many wanted to take photos with him.

“You just stop and tell them you’re retiring and the whole neighborhood comes out and takes a picture with you. and that’s what I like. You just stop and take pictures and yeah I grew up in that neighborhood.

Craig now has the real test. He has been married for 26 years and will be working normal hours which means he’ll be at home on a regular basis

RELATED: GE fire continues to burn 1 day after massive blaze

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