During one of my first work journeys with him, the minute we entered the airport, he stopped our conversation and beelined it at warp speed to TSA pre-check. My attempts to catch up to him were fruitless; next time I saw him, he was sitting cozy at the gate. Me? I was out of breath from trying to chase him down. Then, when I sat beside him, the gate agent started the boarding process. Since he has JetBlue status, he boarded immediately. He popped up from his chair, gave me a "have a nice flight," and sped down the jetway, travel rolly in hand. I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie "Catch Me if You Can."
Tim says goodbye to NFPA this week. In a way, his Speedy Gonzalez performance at the airport mirrored the way he performed his job: efficient, punctual, flawless. Tim, though, wasn't just a great employee; he's also a stellar guy. I've had the pleasure of working with him since 2013, when I joined the Fire Sprinkler Initiative team. Knowing little about fire sprinklers in homes, Tim, who started here in 2011, was one of my tutors. It's easy to get bogged down by all the techy and legislative aspects pertaining to home fire sprinklers, but I'll never forget Tim's patience in explaining these intricacies to me. Also, whenever I needed something from Tim, he responded to emails in record time, usually within minutes. While on the road and unable to get to my email immediately (I think Tim once told me he traveled, on average, 18 days out of the month), he'd call me with an answer to my question. Again, Speedy Gonzalez.
It's no surprise that a 35-year veteran of the fire service has a knack for helping others. It's in Tim's blood and brain, the latter crammed with extensive knowledge on an array of topics that might make some a know-it-all or ego maniac. Tim isn't either. Brilliant but with heart, he was one of the best types of coworkers. He may appear stoic at first, but his humanity and selflessness always emerged. Whether helping me craft a story on a new sprinkler law, helping create sprinkler coalitions throughout his region (half of the U.S., mind you), or presenting at a public education summit, Tim's impact can be felt nationwide. His fire service career aside, I'm hoping Tim leaves us knowing his work has helped save lives.
Starting this week, Tim embarks on his next journey: retirement. The news, for me, has been bittersweet. I'm one part happy that he has ample time to spend with his family and another part sad that we (more selfishly, me) will be losing such an amazing coworker.
Have a happy retirement, Tim. Your many friends at NFPA and beyond will miss you.
NFPA will continue to be a valuable resource in the states served by Tim. Going forward, other members of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative team and NFPA’s regional staff will be available to assist with your sprinkler education and advocacy efforts. If you need our assistance in regions served by Tim, please contact Barbara Dunn at 617-984-7285, and she will direct your inquiry to the proper staff person.