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Roanoke Fire-EMS deputy chief retires after 35 years

‘It’s exciting. It’s sad. It’s scary.’

ROANOKE, Va. – After 35 years of service, Deputy Chief Billy Altman retires on Jan. 8.

Deputy Chief Billy Altman began his career in public safety in 1980 as a volunteer at Roanoke Life Saving Crew. In 1985 Altman was hired as one of the City of Roanoke’s paid Paramedics employed to support the EMS volunteer program.

In 1988, he was promoted to EMS Field Supervisor, overseeing the daily operations of the career EMS staff. In 1995, the City’s EMS program merged with the Fire Service and Altman was promoted to Captain within the new formed Roanoke Fire-EMS Department. In 2003 he was promoted to Battalion Chief of the Training Division and in 2007 was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Department.

Roanoke Fire-EMS posted more about his history on Facebook writing,

“Deputy Chief Altman has not only dedicated his time to the visitors and residents of the City of Roanoke, but also to EMS across the Commonwealth. Deputy Chief Altman is a life member of Roanoke Life Saving Crew, has served on the advisory board for the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Board of Directors for the Western Virginia EMS Council, Virginia Office of EMS Financial Assistance Review Committee and served on the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of EMS Transportation Committee. Altman has over 40 years of experience in public safety experience in career and volunteer Fire/EMS.

Thank you Chief Altman for your years of dedicated service to the residents and visitors of the City of Roanoke and beyond. Your wealth of knowledge and witty personality will be missed. We wish you a happy and healthy retirement!”

He said it’s been a long journey and the next chapter is scary and sad but exciting.

“I got a bunch of grandkids, and I worked 24-hour shifts for a long time and family had to miss out on a bunch. So it’s time to get back,” said Altman.

He also emphasized the importance of recruiting employees who want to dedicate their professional lives to being a first responder.


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