Yokosuka firefighters retire after decades of service
Japanese firefighters Tetsuo Fujita and Takashi Innami wrapped up their careers at Yokosuka Naval Base’s fire station during a retirement ceremony June 27.
Fujita, 62, served for 40 years at station while Innami, 61, served for 32.
“I’m really glad that I managed to serve for 40 years without any illness,” Fujita said before the retirement ceremony. “I would like to thank my parents who gave me such physical strength.”
He also had nothing but good things to say about the 45 other firefighters who work at the station.
“I feel relieved completing such a demanding job,” Innami said. “Now, I would like to say ‘thank you’ from my heart to everybody who supported me to carry out my mission.”
The two firefighters engaged in a wide-range of fire operations, preventions and rescues, including ship firefighting, water rescue, confined space rescue and hi-angle rope rescue.
Fujita, as a fire crew chief, helped lead the station to numerous awards, including the U.S. Navy Fire Department of the Year for 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Innami, a fire truck driver, was recognized as the top firefighter in the worldwide “DOD Civilian Firefighter of the Year” in 2010.
Reflected on his 32 years of service, Innami said one event stood out.
“The most memorable experience throughout my career was the fire at the Koshiba Naval Fuel Terminal,” he recalled. “It was in October 1981 and I had just joined the (Yokosuka station). We engaged in an actual extinguishing operation with crews from the Yokohama City Fire Department. This incident taught me how terrible a fire can be, and the memory has continuously driven me to work carefully and seriously.”
According to Neil R. Hogan, Chief, Fire and Emergency Services, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Commander Navy Region Japan, Fujita and Innami were the core of the organization.
“They are the ones who put the wet stuff on the red stuff, rescue and protect those who defend America and Japan along with their families, and the on-base and off-base communities,” Hogan said, explaining that to two went out of their way to pass their knowledge to next generation of Yokosuka firefighters. “They will be sorely missed.”
“I will take a short rest after retirement,” Fujita said. “Then, I want to go to Tohoku and volunteer” as the area continues to recover from the earthquake and tsunami.
“I would like to take a trip to “Inami” Town, Wakayama Prefecture, which has the same kanji name of my family name (Innami), yet its pronunciation is slightly different,” Innami said. “It’s been my longtime dream.”
Hogan said the two will always be part of the fire station family and are always. “All I wish for them is to enjoy their retirement chapter of life,” he said, “and achieve their goals in retirement, whatever those may be.”