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The Country’s Oldest Active Firefighter Retires

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The Irving Fire Department's BIlly-Gene Holder, 77, is the oldest active firefighter in the nation, but he has decided to retire after 56 years. (credit: KTVT/KTXA)

IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) - A 77-year-old firefighter in Irving currently holds the title for the oldest active firefighter in the nation. But he has decided to hang up his boots. Billy-Gene Holder, known to many as Shakey, has had a long run. “Almost 56 years,” he said.

Holder started as an Irving firefighter in 1955, and quickly earned his Shakey nickname. “I got that name after I got here, because I was a little nervous at 21 years old,” he explained before his retirement. “It stuck with me ever since.”

Now, Holder’s last fire call is just around the corner.

“I’m a great grandfather. But I don’t feel like it,” Holder told CBS 11 News. “I’m telling you, I don’t feel like I should be that old. I feel like I’m about 30.”

Holder still passes the firefighter’s timed endurance test, every single time. “Takes me six more seconds than it does a rookie,” he admitted.

Holder is a legend in Irving, and not just because he is a septuagenarian. “He is more than a firefighter. He is more than a captain,” said Irving Fire Department Chief Mario Molina. “He is a public servant. It may have nothing to do with fire or EMS, but he is going to serve them.”

Just two years ago, Molina honored Holder by putting his name on the fire truck. “I always thought I could put out any fire, and I don’t remember any that we didn’t put out,” Holder said. “We put them all out.”

It has been a good run for the man called Shakey, but it is finally time to say goodbye. “It is going to be pretty emotional,” he said. Holder’s last shift is on Saturday, at Fire Station 1, where he has worked for the past 30 years. There will be a celebration for him afterwards and Holder wants everyone to know that they are invited.

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