Marty Hansen steps down as Philip fire chief

The newly voted-in fire chief for the Philip Volunteer Fire Department is Matt Reckling. After more than 10 years, the previous fire chief, Marty Hansen, had decided to step down.

Regular monthly meetings for the PVFD are held on the first Wednesday of each month. During the December 1 meeting, officers were elected by the attending members of the fire department. The one-year terms for all the officer positions begin January 1.

"I'm a glutton for punishment," said Reckling. "Here we go. I'll try it for a year. If I don't like it, or they don't like what I do, they can then get someone else. I'll have plenty of help though, with Marty being the assistant chief." Assistant Fire Chief Roger Williams also stepped down for this term.

"I've been chief long enough," said Hansen. "It's time for some new blood to be in there. I want to start going to soccer tournaments and other stuff for my grandkids. I usually have had to stay around during the summers. I'll stay on as assistant chief and help Matt with the ton of little paperwork stuff you have to wade your way through. It'll make a smoother transition than what I had to go through as chief."

Mike Moses' position of treasurer will now be filled by David Butler. "I'll still be there as a firefighter," said Moses, "but it's time to get new blood involved. There will be more members more involved that way." Secretary Mike Schultz was re-elected as department secretary.

The PVFD has 42 firefighters on its roster, with an estimated 25 considered as active. "The problem is, you don't want a summer full of fires, but the more activity you have the more people you can get involved," said Hansen. "Three years ago was our worst summer. At one point we went 18 days straight fighting fires, with a couple of those being all-nighters."

Hansen began as a Philip firefighter in 1984. He was voted in as fire chief 10 or more years ago, taking over the position following Jerry Noteboom, who had taken over from Richard Baye. When Hansen took over, Williams had already been assistant fire chief for three years.

"I guess we get pushed into it," said Williams. "The position came open, I was nominated and I took it." Williams has now been a firefighter with the PVFD for 37 years. His time will now go toward his family. "With Matt taking over, we still need Marty to stay in there because of his general knowledge and he knows everybody in the state connected with fire fighting. I think this will be the best. I'm still going to be a truck captain and do the department mechanics. For me there's no real change except in the name. Change is a time for the younger guys to get broken in."

Hansen recalled the older days when he was a truck captain on the pumper. "I have lots and lots of memories. I used to be fairly good at driving the pumper. I could sometimes get it to a structure fire before the brush rigs got there. The closest call I ever had was at the Richard Miller shop fire, which involved diesel tanks and acetylene torch oxygen tanks. I just got to the door and it blew out. I skidded back a long ways, and it just picked me up. I remember looking up from the ground and seeing the loose fire hose swinging all over. Todd Gartner thought a 2x4 had gone through me. That was a terrible, hot and nasty fire."

People interested in joining the PVFD may attend the next meeting, at 7:30 p.m. January 5, at the Philip fire station.