Tupelo firefighter loves his job and his city

Romeco Traylor

Romeco Traylor wears a lot of hats. Aside from being a career fireman – he is a division chief in the Tupelo Fire Department – he is involved on many levels in community activities. But first, a little about the man’s history. Traylor, 49, is a Tupelo native and a graduate of Shannon High School. Due to where he grew up, Haven Acres, his parents were given the choice of where he attended school: “My mother chose Verona and Shannon schools,” he said. It was a no-brainer since Traylor’s compadres attended Lee County schools. After graduation, Traylor served a stint in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. Upon discharge, Traylor said some of those compadres were working in local furniture factories, making good money. He considered that line of work but a position with TFD opened and he opted for that. Traylor recalled that some of his buddies questioned his choice since a firefighter’s starting pay was only about $19,000 a year, far less than they were making. Now, decades later, Traylor said some of those friends have voiced a bit of envy because their bodies are suffering from years of wrangling heavy furniture while he remains in relatively good health – and making much more than $19,000 a year. Traylor worked his way up the ranks and has served the past decade as the training officer for the fire department, which employs 92 at seven different fire stations. He is responsible for the day-to-day training of the firefighters as well as hiring new employees and holding promotional tests. He also works as an adjunct instructor at the Mississippi State Fire Academy in Pearl and Itawamba Community College Workforce Development; he instructs mainly in hazardous materials (HAZMAT) firefighting techniques. “Firefighting is a good job,” Traylor said of the profession, though he does admit it can be a dangerous one. Ideally, good, solid training will prevent most injuries on the job. Firefighters must complete continuing training and education every year. “Almost all firefighters here are certified instructors,” he said of the Tupelo department personnel. Not everyone is cut out to be a firefighter, according to Traylor. There have been instances when applicants have passed the written exam required to become a firefighter, only to find out they cannot perform some of the duties necessary for the job: “They never knew they were afraid of heights until you put them on a ladder or they never knew they were claustrophobic until they get into a confined space,” he said. Outside the job, Traylor is active in the community. He has been active in the Tupelo Police Athletic League since its inception; he coaches youth basketball and was a coach for the youth arena football league. In 2018, Traylor was named the Park Hill Dedicated Servant, an honor he cherishes. “This city raised me,” he said of Tupelo. “I love this city. This city is my family.” To that end, Traylor joined up with four other concerned African American men, the Unified Five, about a year ago. The mission of the group, which meets monthly, is to address the needs of the black community, especially the needs of its youth: “We don’t need the white community to solve our problems,” said Traylor. “By helping ourselves, we are helping Tupelo and Lee County become a better place to live.” Traylor and his wife Twyla have four children and four grandchildren. They are active at Mt. Zion Community Church in Guntown and Tupelo’s Temple of Compassion & Deliverance. In his leisure time, Traylor said he loves to work in the yard and coach basketball through the Tupelo Parks & Rec league. And he loves to cook: “I’m all over the place (in cooking),” he said. “I love to cook Italian food.” He likely comes by that naturally; Traylor said his first name, Romeco, is an Italian name his mother settled on. Buon appetito!

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