2017-11-02 / Views

Leelanau never had ‘part-time’ fire chiefs

Here’s a tip of the hat to Dan Petroskey, and all parttime fire chiefs who preceded him.

Mr. Petroskey feels more at home cranking open a dry hydrant than explaining a fire budget spread sheet. He’ll take time to jump a dead battery in a stranger’s car whether on or off the clock because, well, it’s the right thing to do.

He does fine in front of a CPR class. Fire board meetings are less of a specialty.

Mr. Petroskey started in the business of fire fighting before it was a business, at least in Leelanau County. As training grew intense and volunteers became harder to find — there’s a correlation there, along with other factors — the role of a part-time chief wasn’t enough to lead a fulltime department.

Mr. Petroskey, the last part-time fire chief in Leelanau County, has announced his impending retirement. He heads Cedar Area Fire and Rescue.

He holds the last lantern of part-time fire chiefs who so selflessly served Leelanau County. There was a time not so long ago that all positions within county departments were strictly volunteer, from the bottom on up the ladder.

The list of part-time, fully dedicated fire chiefs is long. There’s Dick Catton and Bill Calhoun in Suttons Bay. Ray Van Zee, Dino Ziebell and John Van Raalte Sr. in Leland. Jim Flohe in Lake Leelanau.

Frank Basch was the first chief in Glen Arbor. He oversaw the conversion of an old school bus into the department’s first fire truck.

We don’t stand a chance of naming all of them, and the more we name the more obvious it becomes that we’ve left too many out.

Let’s just say all Leelanau communities are home to men who led lives into danger to save the lives and property of others, all the while holding down “real jobs” and raising families.

There were no “part-time” fire chiefs.

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