- Associated Press - Saturday, December 31, 2016

HOUMA, La. (AP) - After 25 years with the Houma Fire Department, Todd Dufrene is calling it quits.

Dufrene became chief in May 2009 and will retire Sunday at age 54.

Dufrene remembers coming home one day in 1991 to a blinking light on his answering machine and a message from the department offering him a job. “This was after-hours when I got home, and I couldn’t wait ‘til the next morning at 8 o’clock to hurry up and call and say yes,” he said.

Dufrene’s father was a volunteer firefighter in their hometown of Cut Off, and Dufrene started going on calls when him when he was about 10. He couldn’t wait to turn 16 so he could join the department.

After his father retired from driving school buses, Dufrene took over that job for about five years. He later worked his way through the ranks at the Houma Fire Department, from firefighter to fire equipment operator to captain and ultimately chief.

“They say if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he said. “I kind of felt that. … I can still remember going on vacation for a week or two and I couldn’t wait to come back to work. I really do love being a fireman and love my job.”

Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove tells The Courier (https://bit.ly/2hDqE1M ) it’s been a pleasure to work with Dufrene. Dove and a committee are in the process of interviewing applicants for the position and will bring their choice before the Parish Council on Jan. 11.

“You’re looking for leadership,” Dove said. “They’ve all got a lot of time in. Most all of them have 15-23 years. Hopefully they’ll have some budget experience. Someone we can work with and who has the knowledge.”

Dufrene said whoever replaces him must stay up-to-date on laws, policies and procedures, civil service and Property Insurance Association of Louisiana standards. “You’re responsible for everything, so you’ve got to always be at the top of your game.”

Dufrene’s accomplishments include improving the Houma Fire Department’s Property Insurance Association of Louisiana rating from a Class 3 to a Class 2, purchasing four new trucks and tablets for all response units, and remodeling four stations. The department also has a 1,400-square-foot center, where firefighters began training last year. Under Dufrene’s leadership, the department also began responding to life-threatening medical emergencies and crashes involving injuries.

When he’s officially retired, Dufrene said he plans on spending more time with his father, like fishing together. He also wants to go back to teaching firefighting in the offshore and marine industries at Fletcher Technical Community College.


Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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