Posted 7/14/10 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
For more than 30 years, Ed Rettig has been working to keep Alexander and McKenzie County safe from fire. It’s a job that he started as a way to give back to the community. A job that has taken many hours of dedication is now giving back to him with the 2010 McKenzie County Emergency Responder of the Year award.
When Rettig moved to Alexander in 1977, he took over the current fire chief’s job at R & L Oil of Alexander, and because there was a need, he also joined the Alexander Fire Department.
“When you work in a town, especially a small town, the community supports you and your business,” says Rettig. “When I moved here there was a need at the fire department, and I decided it would be a great way to give back to the community so I joined, and I’ve been there ever since.”
After 23 years as the Alexander Fire Department Fire Chief, Rettig passed the torch to Lance Powell earlier this year. But he is still a member of the department.
“I was fire chief for a long time,” comments Rettig. “But, in a small town, you don’t always have someone new to take over.”
Over the years, Rettig has found great satisfaction in getting a fire put out, especially when it means less damage to someone’s property.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a grass fire, oil field fire or a structure fire, whether it’s grass or a building, it’s important to someone’s life or business, and it feels good to know you helped save some of that,” says Rettig. “But without the great community support the Alexander Fire Department receives, we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs nearly as well.”
Rettig commends the community of Alexander and the Alexander Fire Department for keeping the department’s equipment updated and in good shape.
“Some small communities have very little to work with,” adds Rettig. “That’s not the case in Alexander and that makes our job much easier.”
While Rettig gives credit to the city and fire district, others commend Rettig for keeping the Alexander Fire Department in good shape.
“He has been the driving force behind the Alexander department,” says David Drovdal. “Ed has not only been instrumental in keeping it going, he has also been the motivator behind the whole department over there. He takes care of maintenance, getting new equipment and whatever else needs to be done. He’s been a great asset to Alexander.”
Rettig is appreciative of the award, but he doesn’t feel that he earned it all by himself.
“Those of us who volunteer don’t do it for plaques and awards,” says Rettig. “We do it because there is a need and I know that there are men in the fire department that are more deserving than me. I also know that I would not have received this award without all of the deserving people. But it is very satisfying to be recognized.”
As Rettig steps down from his role as fire chief, he is confident that the community will continue to be taken care of, especially as more young people move into the community.
“The average age of our department used to be in the 50s, and now, thanks to a lot of young people moving in, those of us who have been with the department for a long time know that when we leave, it will still be in good hands,” adds Rettig. “It’s so important to have young people take over. It’s the passing of the torch and they are very active and excited to learn more. You can’t beat youth. Our door in Alexander is always open to anyone who wants to volunteer.”