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Skilled to Work: Firefighter of 25 years retires to pursue career as aircraft mechanic

Darryl Cameron, 55, works on disassembling an airplane engine during a class at Snead State Community College.
Darryl Cameron, 55, works on disassembling an airplane engine during a class at Snead State Community College.

Darryl Cameron started working with Huntsville Fire and Rescue back in 1995.

Posted: Jan 20, 2020 12:23 AM

It can be difficult to start a new job or change careers, but that can feel even more daunting later in life. However, that's the change that a Huntsville firefighter is preparing to make.

Captain Darryl Cameron, 55, spent the past 25 years with Huntsville Fire and Rescue, moving between various fire stations throughout his quarter-century career. He is now about halfway through following his dream of becoming an aviation maintenance technician.

Last month, Cameron received his Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airframe Mechanics certification. 

"It feels good. It's just another step in the direction I want to go," said Cameron.

Now, he is going through courses at Snead State Community College to get his certification in the Powerplant Technology program, which involves working with engines. Cameron said that has been a bit more challenging.

"I'm nervous and scared, like I don’t want to mess up, but I want to learn it and I just have to keep reminding myself that this is what I'm going to school for. I'm learning it," said Cameron.

But before he ever worked on planes at Snead State, he was working on putting out fires around Huntsville.

"I tried with the police department and the fire department and I went with the fire department. I just like helping people and it just seemed like a better fit. And I've enjoyed every minute of it," said Cameron.

Cameron started with Huntsville Fire back in 1995 and said while he loves the work and the people he spends most days with, he knows that every time they get called out, it could be especially bad.

"Back when I first hired in, we had a house fire where a child was lost in the fire and after about two, three hours of digging and searching, I’m the one who found her. It’s something you don’t want to keep remembering," said Cameron.

Even though working with the fire crews has been rewarding, Cameron's passion always lied with aviation. That ambition was not lost on his instructors, like Keith Smith.

"He wants to do this and he’s dedicated to do it. He's put a lot of time, more time than anybody else digging in the books and studying and whatnot because it’s really important to him to pass the course," said Smith.

And with just a few more classes to go, Cameron said he's looking forward to his new career, his second career, really taking off.

"I've enjoyed the fire department and 25 years there, but I'm getting to the age where I want to do the aviation cause that’s something that I've always loved and I'm just one step closer," said Cameron.

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