By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department Chief Bob Haight will leave his leadership role when he steps down March 1.
Haight began his tenure with Marshfield Fire & Rescue in 1987.
“I came to this later in life,” recalled Haight. “I was probably somewhere in my early 30s when I came in.”
After taking a first responder course, Haight made the decision to advance his training.
“It gives you just enough knowledge to know what you have to do but not the knowledge base to do all of the other stuff that should be done,” said Haight. “That is why I moved up to being an EMT.”
That led Haight to a career with the Marshfield department that would span multiple decades.
“In connection with this department, it will be 30 years,” said Haight. “Twenty-seven years as a full-time member and three years as a paid on-call before that. Early in my career, there was a paid on-call program with this department. They were trying to augment their staffing at that time. It was to supplement the full-time firefighters.”
Haight became a full-time member of the department in 1990 and in 2013 was promoted to chief.
While Haight has witnessed many tragedies during his career, he said the ones that stick out most are where burn victims had been removed from the incident.
“I have a vivid picture in my head of every one of them,” Haight said. “The one that I am most proud of: From the time we got the call to the time the patient hit the emergency room was like 19 minutes. So to be able to get there, get in there, pull the person out, and then take them to the emergency room was 19 minutes. That to me was incredible.”
Haight credits the men and women of the department in completing that call and stated that they are one of the reasons he will miss his place in the organization.
“It really does come down to the people that you work with,” Haight said. “I love the job, but I love the interaction with the people better. That is the most fantastic part. That is really what I am going to miss. Since I’ve been doing the administrative functions for quite a few years, it has kind of gotten away from going to fight the fires, going out to run the ambulance calls. Even though I do both of those a little bit, it is in a whole different capacity, so that part has changed. That part I won’t miss simply because I’ve gotten away from it.
“Being able to lead this fantastic group of men and women has been a real blessing to me. It is not what I did. It is what they did for me and for this department.”
“It’s just time,” explained Haight. “I don’t think that I am retiring. I’m just changing careers.”
Haight currently teaches pediatric advanced life support and advanced cardiac life support with the Marshfield Clinic and will continue in that capacity following his retirement from the department.
Haight’s departure comes on the heels of the retirement of longtime Deputy Fire Chief Ed Erickson. Replacement of both positions will now fall into the hands of the Marshfield Fire & Police Commission, which approved Haight’s resignation Jan. 12.