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Family, tradition, duty, and honor

Four Tiffin firefighters recognized as they retire
Brian Detert, Randy Morgan, Steve Kick, and Corey Donaldson retired from the Tiffin Fire Association with 76 years of combined service to the community, and were honored with a retirement celebration Monday, March 15 at the Tiffin Fire Station.

TIFFIN — The Tiffin Fire Department celebrated 76 years of combined service Monday, March 15 as Chief Brian Detert (24 years), 1st. Asst. Chief Randy Morgan (31 years), 2nd Asst. Chief Corey Donaldson (11 years), and 2nd Captain Steve Kick (10 years) retired from the all-volunteer department.
“There is 76 years of combined volunteerism standing before you, and that is something to be very proud of,” said Firefighter-EMT Amy Shaull to the group of family and friends in an apparatus bay of the station. “What is a volunteer firefighter? Well, we all know what that is, it’s someone who leaves in the middle of dinner, gets up in the middle of the night, misses birthday parties and so much more. They have put their lives on the line for people who are in distress and put out fires as swiftly as possible.” They also put in countless hours in training, meetings, and fundraisers, Shaull said. “It takes a certain type of person to do what you have done over the years, mentally and physically. Today we thank you for your dedication and your sacrifices you have made. You have made a difference to this department, and it is what it is today because of you. You have been excellent role models for us and we will never forget what you have taught us, and thanks for making our jobs a lot easier.”
Detert literally grew up in the fire station, following in the footsteps of his dad, who became a Chief. “That’s where my drive for being in the fire service came from. Over the years things have changed in the fire service, I’ve worked with some of the best people throughout the County, they’re still there, and that’s the hardest thing I’m gonna miss, is the relationships I’ve made. I’m gonna miss it. A lot of camaraderie.” It’s those relationships and having the support of the community that Detert said was the most rewarding aspect of his career. “They’re always looking for you when they need help, and you’re always there for them.”
Despite the years of experience leaving the department, Detert said all will be well. “They’ll be good at what they do, they already are, they just need to keep it up.” To those thinking about a career in the fire service, and/or in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Detert said, “Join your local volunteer fire department and you will realize what kind of great people there are out there, and they will always have your back.”
Morgan joined the fire department in 1990 when he turned 18, and like Detert, he was following in his dad’s footsteps as well. “I’ve made a lot of memories here, some of them I wish I could forget, some of them I never want to forget. I’ve met a lot of great people, made a lot of good friends, and I just thank everyone for their memories. I loved it. This was probably one of the hardest decisions (to retire), but there comes a time when you’re just not enjoying it anymore.”
Also like Detert, Morgan said he’ll miss the relationships he’s made through the fire service. “I’ll miss the hell out of the friends I’ve made here. I’m gonna miss the hell out of every time you hear those sirens. I feel we’ve accomplished a lot.”
About being in the fire service, he said “It’s a great experience, you meet a lot of great people, you make good friends, and it’s a lot of fun. We come together and we have a good time, we do work…sometimes we save lives, and sometimes we lose lives, and that’s how it works.” But, offsetting the tragedies, which make up a firefighter’s career, are the days when a house is saved, or a life is saved. “If you’re a young person in the community, and you want to be a part of the community, be a part of the community and do it (join your local fire department). Do it. I don’t regret any of the years I’ve spent here.”
Donaldson, unlike Detert and Morgan, didn’t grow up in the firehouse, but he too had the passion to help out his community. “I went to school to be a cop, and I was building houses at the time, and tried to get on with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department but didn’t make it, I think there was 500 applicants and three positions they needed to fill. I kind-of always wanted to do it but never was in a community where I could do it.” Once he moved to Tiffin, he joined the fire department and hasn’t regretted the decision.
“I loved it and I had a good time doing it. I saw a lot of things that I never would’ve expected to see, or thought I would ever see, but there’s a good camaraderie here, a bunch of good guys.” Like his fellow retirees, Donaldson said it’s the personal relationships he will miss the most. “It’s hard to get people to join, and you’ve got to want to do it. It’s not easy work, I’ve spent a lot of hours here, a lot of hours training and doing all kinds of stuff around here. It’s rewarding to me though, I think it takes a special person to do it and you gotta want to do it, but I liked helping people and it’s a rewarding feeling.”
“I’ve been with the Association for a long time and these guys have made the job very, very easy,” said an emotional Gene Charbon, representing the Tiffin Fire Association. Charbon presented each man with a plaque commemorating their years of service to the community. The Association and the City of Tiffin continue to have discussions for the City assuming budgetary and operational responsibility for the Fire Department.

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