Salem Fire Captain retires after 28 years with department

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Shawn Nowlin shawn.nowlin@ourvalley.org


Submitted photo
Captain Tracy Coe will be continuing a fire service career with the Davidson Fire Department in North Carolina as a Battalion Chief in the operation division.

After 28 years of working as a City of Salem Firefighter, Captain Tracy Coe has decided to call it a career. Coe was hired in 1991. Over the years, he has held multiple positions: medic, EMT, senior firefighter, EMS Supervisor and Fire Captain.

Born in Bristol, Tennessee, Coe was raised in Roanoke. Seeing his parents volunteer for a rescue squad made Coe want to become a firefighter. “My mom and dad volunteered for a rescue squad that was housed with the fire department. As a little kid, I always wanted to ride on the big red fire trucks,” he said.

Coe notes that being a firefighter is much more than just rescuing people and animals from dangerous situations. In addition to teaching numerous classes at fire departments across Southwest Virginia, Coe was also vital in establishing the Swift-Water Rescue Team and leading the Technical Rescue Team.

“Helping start a Swiftwater team for Salem Fire & EMS Department and training them as well as encouraging the personnel that worked with me to advance in their career are some of my career highlights,” he said.

Coe estimates that he has put out roughly 100 fires throughout his career. Reflecting on the last 28 years, he said, “I’ve learned how to treat people with respect and compassion with no judgment of who they are. This includes the people I worked with daily and the community I served.”

Support from his family allowed Coe to get up every day and do his job to the best of his ability. Coe and his wife of 29 years, Laura, have three sons: Grayson, 26, Chandler, 23, and Easton, 18. When asked why he is retiring now, Coe said, “I had an opportunity to advance my career with another fire department to the rank of Battalion Chief.”

Said a fire department spokesperson, “Captain Tracy Coe worked his last shift with the Salem Fire & EMS Department on December 27. He is retiring after more than 28 years of service. Tray has led many station renovation projects, including the kitchen renovations at Station #2 and Station #3. Tracy has been a solid fire officer for many years, and his leadership will be greatly missed.”

What is next for Tracy Coe? As he put it, “My family and I will be moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, and I’ll be continuing a fire service career with the Davidson Fire Department in the operation division.”