47 YEARS OF SERVICE: ARCATA FIRE CHIEF JOHN MCFARLAND SHARES HIS LAST DAY WITH US
Arcata, CA- After 47 years in the fire service Arcata Fire Chief John McFarland is retiring. Today is his last day on duty and tomorrow morning he will turn in all his gear.
McFarland began his career in 1966 as a volunteer fire fighter for Arcata. He fell in love with the job after he witnessed a fire call; curious he asked the fireman what they were doing. McFarland said, "and at the end of the conversation they said would you like to join. And I was skinny and had hair then. Look what it did to me."
But now his days of service are done. He has worked for Crescent City fire, Eureka fire, and will now retire from the place where it all started. Originally from Bakersfield, he moved to the north coast to attend Humboldt State, and has made this his home ever since. McFarland added, "I didn't know there were places like this. It's gorgeous country. The lifestyle is really appealing. And I just never went home."
Working with young people over the years, friends and colleagues tell us he has inspired many people. Neal Narayan, a probationary Arcata fire fighter told us, "he invited us to his home for a bbq and you don't see that very often. He's a fatherly figure for the whole fire department."
We spoke to his friend and former Arcata fire chief who told us McFarland has turned the station around. Dave White said, "We’ve added staffing. We added new equipment. Basically brought the department into the 21st century."
Not sure how he will adjust to retirement, McFarland tells us his wife has planned a family getaway. He added, "we have a vacation home leased in Hawaii for January. And she has invited our whole blended family."
Arcata fire has not hired a new Chief but Assistant Chief, Justin McDonald is now the interim Chief.