COVINGTON, Ga. - There’s an old axiom that says if you do what you love for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life. That saying might well apply to retiring City of Covington fire Captain B.J. Knight who retired this week after 37 years of service to his community.
The Newton High School grad said he applied for the job when he returned to Covington after a hitch in the Navy.
“I didn’t grow up wanting to be a fireman. It just kind of happened,” he said. “But then, when I started fighting fire, I loved it. So it just fell into place.”
Knight talked about how the job of firefighting has changed during the past three decades.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “The job hasn’t really changed much, the environment has. We had a lot more fires back in the day and we were more firefighters. Now it’s like we’re more into public relations and do a lot of medical calls and stuff. There are less fires, so we’ve adapted to our environment.”
After more than 30 years on the job, Knight still remembers his first fire.
“I grew up across from Bakers Field, on Conyers Street. My mom owned a house there,” he said. “And the call came out as a house on fire across from Bakers Field, that’s what it came out as.
“So I’m thinking it’s my mom’s house and I’m on the truck and I’m ready to go. I was about to get off the truck and run over there. That’s how convinced I was. And it was a good fire. I beat everybody on the truck and I was ready to go, but the fire was on Davis Street and not Conyers Street.”
Knight said after five years of fighting fires, he reluctantly agreed to become a driver.
“I loved fighting fire back in the day. I fought fire for five years, which is a long time for most people because most of the time you get promoted by then,” he said. “The chief came to me and said ‘I need you to drive’ and I said ‘I don’t want to drive. I like what I’m doing. I love fighting fire. And he said I need you to drive the truck.”
After becoming an engine driver, Knight rose through the ranks to lieutenant and then captain.
Asked what he will miss most in retirement, Knight said he’s going to miss the people he works with.
“I’m going to miss the guys. There’s a lot of politics and stuff that I’m not going to miss, but the city’s been good to me,” he said. “I’m proud to have been a fireman. It’s been a good profession. I’m going to miss it, but there’s a time. You don’t see any professional boxers out there at age 60.”
Covington Fire Chief Jeremy Holmes told The Covington News that Knight will be missed.
“Captain B.J. Knight has 37 years of service at the Covington Fire Department, and his experience will be sorely missed in the department,” he said. “Captain Knight has always been the formal and informal leader on every shift he worked, and always treated everyone with the same respect. If you had an emergency, you would want Captain Knight to be there. His bravery and dedication to the fire service is something that cannot be taught. Captain Knight was a huge asset to the Covington Fire Department, and thankfully he was dedicated to make sure the next generation of firefighters is prepared.
“He will be missed, and we wish him the best of luck in his next adventure.”