Press Release

Capt. Paul Thompson III Retires after 32 Years of Service with MFD Share

Jan 7, 2022  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Mar­i­on Fire Dept. Capt. Paul Thomp­son III dreamed of becom­ing a fire­fight­er like his father to con­tin­ue his fam­i­ly lega­cy, and like the men he idol­ized at the fire sta­tion near his home grow­ing up in Marion.

In 1989, one year after his father retired from MFD, Thomp­son III was hired and imme­di­ate­ly began train­ing to achieve var­i­ous first respon­der skillsets dur­ing an evolv­ing time where respon­si­bil­i­ties of fire­fight­ers were chang­ing. He became cer­ti­fied as an Emer­gency Med­ical Tech­ni­cian (EMT), joined the Water Res­cue Team as a cer­ti­fied SCU­BA & Res­cue Div­er, got cer­ti­fied in Haz­mat, and obtained state and nation­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as a Fire Ser­vice Instruc­tor which he said he has uti­lized the most. This cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has allowed me to meet many like-mind­ed per­son­nel local­ly and through­out the U.S., and I’ve been able to work along­side them in teach­ing. It has been very rewarding.”

As an instruc­tor and men­tor to each new MFD fire­fight­er, Thomp­son explained it has been his pas­sion and duty to share his knowl­edge to do the job of help­ing oth­ers in their great­est time of need. When they call us on their worst day, they expect us to be at our best. There­fore, we always have to be at the top of our game.” He always shares an acronym he for­mu­lat­ed with his fel­low fire­fight­ers: PATH. Have Pride in your­self, your depart­ment, and even your equip­ment. You’re going to be con­front­ed with chal­lenges, but if you keep a pos­i­tive Atti­tude, it will spread amongst your crew and in pub­lic. You nev­er know when you’ll be test­ed to react, so that’s why you should Train well and rely on it to kick in. T is also Tradi­tion. If you know the tra­di­tion of our depart­ment, you will be able to share it and know why we do what we do. Final­ly, keep your occu­pa­tion close to your Heart to pre­vent doing some­thing to jeop­ar­dize it.” Dur­ing his 25 years of instruct­ing, Thomp­son found a need to teach Fire Safe­ty Sur­vival. He exten­sive­ly trained uti­liz­ing tech­niques from U. of Illi­nois Fire Ser­vice Insti­tute, and taught his depart­ment, the coun­ty, and helped devel­op cur­ricu­lum on the state level. 

Thomp­son was award­ed by MFD for sav­ing a girl from drown­ing in the Mis­sissinewa Riv­er in 2006, and received a hero­ism award through Fire­house Mag­a­zine, a nation­al pub­li­ca­tion, for sav­ing an elder­ly woman from a house fire in 2008. He has been named Fire­fight­er of the Year” by the Amer­i­can Legion of Grant Coun­ty in 2008 and the Evening Exchange Club of Grant Coun­ty in 2014.

Thomp­son was active in the Hon­or Guard, and per­forms eulo­gies for fall­en fire­fight­ers. As a first respon­der at Ground Zero on 9/11/01 for recov­ery oper­a­tions, he has also orga­nized a local 911 memo­r­i­al cer­e­mo­ny for the past 20 years.

In retire­ment, Thomp­son will con­tin­ue to teach Fire­fight­er 1 & 2 cours­es at the acad­e­my, and expressed inter­est in join­ing boards or com­mit­tees per­tain­ing to pub­lic safe­ty. Thomp­son also looks for­ward to time with his wife and family.

Fire Chief Paul David reflect­ed on Thomp­son as one who strived to not only bet­ter him­self as a fire­fight­er but share with oth­ers the knowl­edge he obtained to bet­ter the depart­ment. Capt. Thomp­son ded­i­cat­ed 100% to his pro­fes­sion, and fill­ing his shoes will be a task. He always had a pas­sion for want­i­ng to do his best for the cit­i­zens. I per­son­al­ly thank him for the knowl­edge he shared with me, his ded­i­ca­tion, ser­vice, and pride he had in his posi­tion with MFD.”

May­or Jess Alum­baugh said Thompson’s depar­ture will most def­i­nite­ly be felt by the Mar­i­on Fire Depart­ment. His ded­i­ca­tion to the pro­fes­sion and assis­tance he pro­vid­ed to his fel­low fire­fight­ers will be great­ly missed. I am, how­ev­er, pleased to know that Paul will con­tin­ue to teach fire­fight­ers in the future. His knowl­edge and lead­er­ship will prove most valu­able to those hop­ing to become firefighters.”

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