By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Longtime Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention Ed Erickson is retiring after 26 years with the department and 25 years in the public education field.
Erickson began with the Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department in 1990.
“I was a regular firefighter on line, running the ambulance and fire engines,” recalled Erickson.
“The second day we had a ton of ambulance calls, and I did not come in with experience on an ambulance, where a lot of our guys were volunteers (and) had the experience, so I got thrown in right away. That was an eyeopener. It was good to have qualified, trained people alongside of you to get you through the day.”
Shortly after being hired with the department, Erickson began working with public education, and in 2000 he was promoted to deputy chief in charge of the fire prevention program.
Erickson said, “I’ve been in public education since 1991. I started off as the coordinator, and now I just oversee the program. I have many wonderful guys there that just love education, love teaching kids, and going to the schools, and it has just been a blessing.
“The good part of it is that we have a lot of good guys that are going to be able to step into my shoes and just continue on with the program.”
Throughout the years Erickson has seen changes in the means to reach the public and has adjusted the program to coincide with current needs. In addition, Erickson was instrumental in introducing Marshfield’s Get Fired Up for Safety event as a charter member of the event committee.
“Ed has been a part of Get Fired Up for Safety since the beginning 13 years ago,” said event coordinator Dar Wernberg. “He created the teddy bear parachute drop, which the kids just love. … I have never seen Ed without a smile on his face. He was always willing to do whatever needed to be done.
“Ed did so many things. It’s difficult to list them all. He is a huge part of this event. I am going to miss him both for his friendliness and his support when I would feel a little overwhelmed.”
In addition to shifts in public education strategies, the department itself has changed over Erickson’s years as a firefighter, notably transitioning from EMT status to paramedic.
“In 1995 we started talking about it,” recalled Erickson. “We were EMTs, and we are still EMTs, but there is about two-thirds of our department that are paramedics. They are moving on to another level now, and it is just exciting to be able to see the changes.
“Basically, we took the ER out to the residents and a lot of the stuff that the ER can do as far as medications and IVs and just to get the people more stabilized before we transport them, that is what we have been able to do.”
Erickson says that he will miss the camaraderie of the department as well as the training.
“I loved the training, and that’s going to go away, so that might be kind of tough to leave,” said Erickson. “I do a lot of volunteering. I do a lot of the maintenance down at Mary’s Place, and I am also the janitor at our church. Basically, instead of working until 9-10 o’clock at night, I’ll get the stuff done during the day.”
Erickson’s official retirement date is Monday, Jan. 16, but his final day as deputy chief was Jan. 12.