South County Fire Captain retires after 36 years of service

by Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

South County Fire Captain Tom Campbell wrapped up a 36-year career as a firefighter in Snohomish County on April 20.

“I didn’t really see myself becoming a fulltime fireman, but I’m blessed to have been able to accomplish that and have it as my career,” said Campbell. “It provided a lot for myself and my family.”

Although a path into fire service was always there, Campbell never knew that he would follow it.

“The fire service was something that was always there,” said Campbell. “I had a good friend whose dad was a volunteer in Snohomish where I grew up and so we used to hang out with him at the fire station. There was a group of us in high school who decided to get into the fire service as volunteers, but I never really looked at it as a career.”

Retrospectively, Campbell says he expressed interest in fire service as a child when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“I subconsciously knew I wanted to be a fireman… because I still have an assignment from first grade that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

His interest in becoming a fulltime firefighter eventually faded, replaced with a passion for construction that motivated him to study construction management in college. After graduation, he started his own company building houses.

During his time as a small business owner, Campbell continued to volunteer as a firefighter. As years passed, he realized that pursuing a profession in fire service would allow for a more lucrative lifestyle for his family.

“I talked to one of the guys I volunteered with in the past who was a fulltime firefighter and he encouraged me to take the test,” explained Campbell. “And so I did.”

In 1991, he joined Snohomish County Fire Station no.1 as a fulltime firefighter, staying with them until 1996 when he transferred to a fire station in Edmonds. In 2010, Campbell returned to Fire District 1, which eventually matured into the South Snohomish County’s Regional Fire Authority.

“I’m very fortunate to have been with South County Fire,” expressed Campbell. “It’ll be interesting to see how the next chapter unfolds.”

Moving forward, Campbell doesn’t have any immediate plans, particularly due to the beginning of his retirement falling amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. For now, he says he looks forward to enjoying his engagement with his fiancé and continuing to work through the challenges of homeschooling his first and sixth graders for the remainder of the school year.

“I’m just embracing that all until the world gets back to some type of normalcy and not making any plans right now,” explained Campbell. “Just letting things evolve how they go.”

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