By his chief’s calculations, Buffalo Grove Fire Lt. William “Kent” Brecht has dedicated more than 41,000 hours to the job.
“It feels a lot less,” said Brecht, who has spent the past 25 years as a firefighter and paramedic. Just an hour earlier, he had responded to a call — the final one of his career — from a resident experiencing chest pains.
Brecht was ushered into retirement at 8 a.m. Aug. 28, when his final shift ended, by current and past colleagues as well as by representatives of the Buffalo Grove Police Department, elected officials and village staff.
Since he joined the department in 1988, Brecht said changes have been made to the ways professionals address ambulance calls and fight fires. Technology has changed over the years, as have home construction materials, he noted.
“Homes burn quicker and hotter with the synthetic and plastic than they did when they were just made from wood and cotton,” he said.
“There’s always excitement on calls that are challenging. The unknowns and not knowing that to expect is probably the biggest challenge,” he said.
Despite putting out fires and saving lives over the years, Brecht said his best memories are of the time spent with his colleagues, whom he’s watched get married and start families over the years.
Those colleagues were at his retirement ceremony, during which he was recognized by Fire Chief Terry Vavra and other fire department staff members with hugs and handshakes. The department saluted Brecht as Northwest Central Dispatch System announced his retirement over the radio. Brecht was also presented with the flag that flew over the Dundee Road fire station.
Brecht, who grew up in Buffalo Grove but now lives in Crystal Lake, said he will spend his retirement with his family. He also plans to dedicate more time to his second job as a corporate pilot at DuPage Airport, he said.