LFR Captain retires after 31 years of service

Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News 

At 7:00am on December 14th, Captain Jeff Hatcher will hang up his fireman’s helmet for the last time.

It’s part of the uniform he’s donned nearly every day for the last 31 years.

We asked what was running through your mind when you decided to join the fire department.

He said:

"I like helping people– being a servant and helping people in times of need and this job definitely offers that, you get to see the good and the bad for people, their worst days,” Hatcher said.

And since that time when he decided to dedicate his life to helping others, he’s helped a lot.

By leading their public education team and getting smoke detectors in more people’s homes.

"Smoke detectors are something we all have to have in our homes. It’s something that protects us and something we take for granted,” Hatcher said.

And serving on the Nebraska Task Force One since the late 80’s.

"The space shuttle blew up over Texas and Louisiana, I was privileged to be a part of the search and rescue,” Hatcher said.

He’s also helped at countless hurricanes including Harvey, and Irma.

It’s a job that he says sticks with you, even after you clock out.

There are some calls he won’t ever forget.

"There were two teenage girls that were hit by a train and we were the first engine on scene and they were still alive,” Hatcher said. “By the time we got them into the ambulance they had both died they were bleeding out as we rescued them and as a young firefighter that left an impact…"

But on the other side of that, he says there are some calls that just left him laughing.

"An 80 year old man was picking up his yard, he could barely walk and he walks backwards into a window well and his feet are up the air– he couldn’t get out,” Hatcher said.

It’s a job he says is more than just a 9–5.

"I already miss it, I already miss it… We’ve already been on one call this morning and it could very well be my last, I have no idea– we’ll see what the next 24 hours brings."

But he wants Lincoln know, it’s been a pleasure.

"There are great people in this community to serve, I’ve enjoyed serving them,” Hatcher said. “There’s a lady that lives right across the park here behind the fire station, she has made I think 3 or 4 quilts for the fire station, she made this quilt for me. It’s people like that in our community."

And Hatcher isn’t done serving Lincoln yet.

Just 30 minutes after his last shift at station 13 ends he’ll start a new job– working with Lincoln parks services.

He says he’s excited to continue working for the city.