- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

RUSTON, La. (AP) - Ruston Fire Chief James Austin has spent the better part of his life providing an invaluable service to the community. But after 34 years, he says he’s calling it quits.

The Ruston Leader reports (http://bit.ly/1roAMIG) Austin’s last day as fire chief is on Wednesday.

“Most people only put in 30 years at this type of job, and as you can see I’ve exceeded that,” he said.

“It has been a great opportunity to work for the Ruston community. Ruston is a jewel in the state and the whole southern region. It is a community that stands above all the rest in everything that it does, and I have tried to mimic that in my service.”

Mayor Dan Hollingsworth appointed Austin as chief in December 2010.

He said he made the decision to join the Ruston Fire Department mainly because of the ambulance services being offered. “Ruston already had their ambulance services with the fire department,” he said. “That showed me that Ruston was moving forward toward the future. Ruston was the first place I knew of to have their fire and EMS together.”

Austin said there are two types of people - those who follow and those who lead.

“This is where I felt the necessity to lead,” he said. “I began researching what we were supposed to be doing and looked at how we could do it better. Ruston was one of the first places to have EMS instructors.”

During his time at the fire department, Austin has received the highest level of training and certification for his position as chief. He said the same is expected of his men.

“It was very important to me that the men had the highest level of certification for their position,” Austin said.

Austin said serving the Ruston community has been an honor and he said his success and the success of the fire department is really a community effort.

“Ruston has some fine individuals out there and I am proud of my guys,” he said. “You never hear a cry out of them and they are all very supportive of what we want to do.”

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Information from: Ruston Daily Leader, http://www.rustonleader.com/

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