Carl Broll came home after three years in the U.S. Navy looking for a job.
“I went to the VA, they handed me an application for the fire department, I took the test and here I am,” he said.
Where Broll was on Friday night was at Engine 58, at 812 Hendrix St. in Somerton, for his final night with the fire department. He retired as a battalion chief, and loved his 42 years with the department.
“Aside from my family, this job was the best thing that happened to me,” he said.
Broll grew up in Harrowgate, or as he and others called it, “Upper Kensington.” He attended St. Joan of Arc Grammar School and North Catholic High School.
In his three years in the Navy, he served on a ship in Spain and in Charleston, South Carolina. He began his career on Nov. 21, 1977, reporting for duty at the old Fire Training College at Ridge Avenue and Cinnaminson Street in Roxborough.
Over the years, he had a dozen assignments at battalions and engine and ladder companies. He started as a fireman and was promoted to lieutenant, captain and battalion chief.
Previously, he worked at Battalion 12 at Cottman and Loretto avenues and Battalion 13 at Frankford and Linden avenues.
He finished his career heading Battalion 5, overseeing firehouses on Hendrix Street, Academy and Comly roads, Bustleton Avenue and Bowler Street and Rhawn Street and Verree Road.
“I’ll miss the people, the routine, the excitement,” he said. “You spend as much time with the people you work with as your family. You take care of each other. The hardest part of this job is also the most fun: putting fires out and helping people.”
So, why is he retiring?
“I’m 65 years old,” said Broll, who enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.
What will he spend his free time doing?
“I don’t know yet. Whatever I want,” he said.
When a Philadelphia firefighter retires, there’s usually a party, sometimes at a bar, often at a firehouse. As a sign of how well liked Broll is, there was a big turnout of firefighters Friday night at the Hendrix Street station.
Joe Sharp, Broll’s driver for the last 3½ years, said fire department aides rely on the “luck of the draw” in getting assignments to drive battalion chiefs. He’ll miss working for Broll.
“He’s a good guy, he really is,” Sharp said. “He’s an outstanding professional in all aspects.”
Broll, who lives with his wife Linda in the Pennswood Park section of the Far Northeast, has four children and six grandchildren. They and other relatives were at the party, which featured food, drinks and a cake.
Sharp and the firefighters of Engine 58 presented Linda with flowers. Broll received a state House of Representatives citation signed by Reps. Martina White and Mike Driscoll and Speaker Mike Turzai. He also received an air-brushed fire helmet and a framed photo of the Battalion 5 car and the Engine 58 truck
The 5th Battalion gave him a plaque with the words, “Knowledgeable Chief, Quality Officer and Great Friend.”
His final advice to the firefighters on hand was to take care of each other and be careful, then he summed up his career.
“I truly am blessed,” he said. ••