For Chris Byrne, the thoughts of having a party to celebrate his 33 years of service to the Marco Island Fire Department and his retirement as the deputy fire chief runs counter to who he is.

That didn’t stop friends, family and colleagues from showing up; they did so in overwhelming numbers to show their respect and love for the man they’ve come to know so well.

Byrne joined the department in 1983 and this would be his first and only job in the fire service.

“I can’t tell you how excited I was to be just offered a position,” said Byrne.

Close to 200 from all over the county along with city personnel, family and friends came to show the man they called friend and boss how much they thought of him.

“Chris is one of those go-to people I came to respect and lean upon when I first came to the city,” said City Manager Roger Hernstadt. “I always knew I could depend upon him.”

Joey Byrne proposed a toast to celebrate his dad’s accomplishments, both in the fire station and as a father.

“Thank you dad for all you’ve done for me,” said Joe Byrne.

Assistant Chief Nolan Sapp of the Greater Naples Fire District introduced some levity to the proceedings when he spoke about Byrne’s “love affair” with fighting brush fires.

“My pager would no sooner shut down from the dispatch than I’d hear from Chris asking if I needed anything,” said Sapp. He was always ready to go anywhere and do anything to help,” Sapp said with a broad grin.

The reception was sponsored in part by the Marco Island Fire/Rescue Foundation. President Dianna Dohm praised Byrne for his readiness to help her understand the needs of the department and its personnel.

“Chris was always great to work with,” said Dohm.

Scott Schultz, a now retired battalion chief from Marco was an early on friend of Byrne’s, and spoke in glowing terms of his commitment to excellence.

“Chris helped to make this the department it is today due to his commitment to the highest standards in our profession,” said Schulz who retired in 2015.

Byrne is married to his wife Julia and they have a son Joe who attends school in Chicago at Columbia College.

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