Max Smith’s stint with the Stephenville Fire Department ended recently after 30-plus years of touching and saving lives and developing life-changing friendships.

“I may have retired, but I will always be a member of ‘B’ shift,” said Smith, who led the way in establishing the city’s EMS service in the 1970s. “I never switched to a different shift.”

When Smith retired on May 31, a retirement celebration honoring him included more than 200 people, including longtime members of “B” shift such as Randy Spikes and Chuck Elliott, among others.

“The hardest thing was leaving those guys, being together so long,” Smith said. “You get where you take care of each other, cover each other, and that’s the way it should be.”

During his 30-plus years, Smith said members of “B” shift were “always looking out for each other.”

“You’re a team,” Smith said. “You get where you depend on each other and know what the other one’s going to do before they do it.”

When his daughter-in-law recently lost a three-and-a-half-year battle with cancer, Smith said representatives of the “B” shift and other local firefighters traveled to Benbrook to attend the funeral.

Included at the funeral were representatives of the Benbrook Fire Department.

“I was extremely proud and very honored,” Smith said. “They’ve been right there with us, fighting this thing from the get-go.”

Smith started with the Stephenville Fire Department on Dec. 22, 1975, under the direction of Fire Marshall Kenneth Haley. He made the first ambulance run on Jan. 1, 1976.

He was lieutenant from 1988 until he retired and served as EMS Director for 30 years. He served under Fire Chief Jimmy Mooney until Mooney’s retirement and retired under current Fire Chief Jimmy Chew.

“I was grateful to assist with taking care of them,” Smith said, referring to citizens. “The biggest fulfillment was serving the people. That’s why it was done. That’s why I pushed and prodded to keep up with the modern times.”

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.