MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

June 30, 2013

Firefighter withstood heat, climbed career ladder

From green recruit to assistant chief in 33 years

— Stanley Perkins nearly quit his firefighting career after his first fire.

“On the first day we went to a house fire,” he said. “I was sent in and breathing that smoke, choking. I went home and I started to call the chief, thinking of quitting. I got up to call, and I don’t know what happened, but I didn’t call. I went on back to work the next shift and they had another house fire and it was blazing. Finally, I got used to it.”

From that day nearly 33 years ago, Perkins advanced from private to driver, then from driver to captain. He became the assistant fire chief in April.

“It’s been a wonderful job,” said Perkins, 55.

Perkins learned his work ethic years earlier, when he was in elementary school. He said his father, who worked for Oklahoma Natural Gas, had janitorial jobs on the side.

“We used to tell my friends, if they wanted to hang with us, they had to work the jobs, too,” he said.  

Perkins said he originally wanted to be a veterinarian, then a pro football player. He attended college wanting to be a safety manager. He settled on a job at the Muskogee Fire Department, where he has served for more than 30 years.

And through all that time, he’s kept the Ford Torino fastback that he had in high school.

“It’s been in the family since my uncle bought it new,” Perkins said. “I drove it back in high school and through college, then when I started with the fire department.”

He stopped driving it in the mid-1980s when it started getting rusty. However, he has restored it to a clean white finish.

“I got it in pretty good shape now,” he said, adding that it took three years to restore the car. “I don’t drive it much anymore. I don’t want anyone to hit it, and finding parts for it would be a nightmare.”

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