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Poquoson Fire Chief Retires After Nearly 50 Years In Service

POQUOSON-Poquoson Fire Chief Robert Holloway, Jr. technically retired on May 1, but he still answers his phone “Chief Holloway.”

Holloway, who was honored at a ceremony on April 26, has been Poquoson’s fire chief for 16 years and has served the Poquoson Fire Department for 48 years. A native of Poquoson, he is a descendant of the Holloways that first settled in Poquoson in the 17th century.

Holloway was hired in January 1975 at age 21. However, he first served in the Poquoson Volunteer Fire Department. He was introduced to firefighting by a friend. During his time as a volunteer, he made sure he was active, taking advanced training classes, including advanced emergency medical training classes.

The first fire chief Holloway worked under was Ret. Brig. Gen. George Dickerson.

“We called him the general. He was a good man, typical military, straight as an arrow,” Holloway said.  “You knew he was a general.”

Later in his career, he took fire prevention training. During his inspection of commercial buildings, he saw many fire hazards. He stressed every person and family should have a fire plan.

“Get out of your house, call the fire department, keep your exits clear, and have a meeting place,” Holloway said.

He admits being a firefighter can be tough on a person.

“You go to put out a fire and you see people lose valuables they’ve collected for a lifetime,” Holloway said. “It can be dramatizing and I just put it away in my head. Hopefully it doesn’t catch up with you.”

He is pleased to see the way current fire fighters and medics are taught how to handle traumatic situations.

“In the old days, we go back, joke around, and not talk about it because it wasn’t considered manly, I guess,” he said. “Now, we make someone available. It’s important that the fire chief looks for signs and provides an opportunity (for firefighters) to talk with someone.”

Holloway said he stayed with the fire department all these years because of the people and the work. He credits Poquoson City Manager Randall Wheeler for his leadership and support.

“I love the fire department,” he said.  “Each day was a new challenge that kept it interesting. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

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