A firefighter’s final sign-off

Lt. Al Piening, whom I’ve only met once briefly, just retired from the Cincinnati Fire Department after 46 years. He spent his last years on the department at the firehouse at Clifton and Ludlow avenues in Clifton.

I post this because it brought a tear to my girlfriend Melissa’s eye when she saw and heard this YouTube clip. She loves Al, a guy she called “The Silver Fox” very much, saying he was one of the good guys who treated her fairly and with respect. Watch the clip closely and read between the lines, and if you know anything about the politics of this fire department or a general assumption about many public safety professionals, you can see, with tears in his eyes, why this guy is obviously a big loss for the citizens of Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Enquirer had a nice article about him that ran the day after his last tour on Dec. 26, 2008. I’m headed to his retirement party now.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

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