Assistant Chief Tom May retires after 39 years


Fire Chief Tom Jamison presents Assistant Chief Tom May a commemorative ax

Tom May East Lake Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Retires After 39 years of serving East Lake Fire Rescue, Assistant Chief Tom May retires. On September 28, May received an honorary fire ax from Chief Tom Jamison, to commemorate his service to the community

Tom May was 16 years old when he first became involved with East Lake Fire Rescue. After his family moved to Palm Harbor from New York City in 1973, he quickly found a home in the new fire department where he became the youngest volunteer. Now almost four decades later, having obtained numerous honors and certifications, he retires.

 After May’s graduation from Tarpon Springs High School, he joined the United States Navy. After his honorable discharge in 1981, he was hired by East Lake Fire Rescue as an emergency medical technician and firefighter. One short year after being hired, May was promoted to the position of Lieutenant/Maintenance Officer. He held this position for three years. May attended St. Petersburg Junior College while simultaneously fulfilling his career responsibilities and graduated in 1984, with his A.A. in Fire Administration. This is the same year he was promoted to the position of Captain, which is the title he held for eight consecutive years. In 1992 May was promoted to District Chief/Training Officer and in 2004, he graduated from National-Louis University with a Bachelors of Arts Degree. May accepted early retirement as the fire departments Operations Deputy Fire Chief in August, 2009.

 After May turned in his uniform, he ran for a seat on the East Lake Fire Commission. The public, that has come to know him over decades of involvement in the area, handed him an impressive victory 72% voter approval in November 2009.

 Following the election, there were several changes in the East Lake Fire Department including realignment of senior staff. It was in this environment that there was a reduction of experience in senior leadership positions. Tom May, in order to better serve the public, voluntarily resigned from his commission seat and went back to work to assist with this transition. He made it clear that coming out of retirement was strictly to help the Department, and after a set period of time, would retire (again). In 2011, he earned the title he retired with, “Assistant Chief”.

 Tom May’s certifications include Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Executive Fire Officer (EFO) from the National Fire Academy, State Certified Company Officer, Certified Fire Service Instructor III, State Certified Fire Safety Inspector. Among his honors and awards: Volunteer of the Year, Fire Officer of the Year, Fire Fighter of the Year and Valedictorian and Class President at the National-Louis University.

In 2011, May received the “Chief Fire Officer” designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing. He is the first and only recipient of this prestigious achievement in the East Lake Fire Department. He earned this honor by passing assessments of his experience, education, technical competencies, contributions, community involvement and a developed plan for future professional endeavors.

While May is retiring from East Lake Fire Rescue, he is not ready to say “goodbye” to his life in the heat. His plans have and always will include the fire service. So where will he go from here?


“The fire service is my chosen profession, but it is my passion as well. I still have a lot of training, education and experience to offer. I’m currently looking to obtain a position in a senior management role in another Department,” May said.


East Lake Fire Rescue held a retirement ceremony for Assistant Chief Tom May on Friday, September 28th. The community thanked Tom May for his four decades of significant service and his impact and commitment to East Lake.

Click Here for East Lake Tarpon Special Fire Control District Resolution 2012-07
Honoring the Career of Thomas May


For more information please contact, Tom May at elfr300@hotmail.com or visit his website at www.tom-may.com.