Retiring fire fighters recognized for service

Friday, January 11, 2013
Retiring fire fighters - Chief Denny Launderville, Willie DeMan and Brad Pedersen with Roger Bissen of Harlan, President of the Iowa Firefighters, Missing was retiring fire fighter Mike Koth.

The Alta Fire Department retired four fire fighters this week with a combined 93 years of experience.

Stepping down were chief Denny Launderville, 34 years; Willie DeMan, 30 years; Brad Pedersen, 19 years; and Mike Koth, 10 years.

The men were recognized Sunday at the soup dinner/fundraiser held at the fire station.

Present was Roger Bissen of Harlan, President of the Iowa Firefighters, who has the honor of traveling the state, along with five vice presidents of the Iowa Firefighters and the past president, to visit with other firefighters and recognize many of those dedicated members who have out in many years.

"That's what makes our small communities thrive," he said, "people stepping up volunteering."

Bissen himself has been a member of the Harlan Fire Dept. for 25 years, 18 of those years as chief.

"Being a member of the fire department is more than fighting fires. Just look at all the patches on their shirts, a sign of certification. You never know what you will run into. We are all there to help. We run across the worse things you could ever imagine yet we come across some good things, too."

Newly elected Alta Fire Chief Dave Schmitz spoke of the four retiring firemen.

Denny Launderville - "Thirty four years - that's a long time. He retied once before but got the itch and came back. We are fortunate to have had him leading us for the last several years. He's offered a lot of leadership to this department."

Willie DeMan - "He's known just as Willie. Ninety percent of the calls we have had, Willie has been there. You just can't replace that."

Brad Pedersen - He has put in 19 years and as a city employee, has been at most of the day time calls that those working out of town could not get to.

Mike Koth - 10 years.

Chief Schmitz said the dedication of these four members has been amazing and they will be hard to replace.

"They all wanted to leave the scene quietly. They're not looking for any recognition. They get enjoyment out of helping people."

Pedersen shared, "It's been enjoyable to spend time with a great bunch of guys. I've learned a lot and it's been fun."

DeMan shared that it is sad to be leaving something that has been a part of half his life. But it's time.

"There have been a lot of sleepless nights," he said, in reference to the tragedies he has been called to.

He will greatly miss the interaction with the kindergarten students who visit the fire station each October for Fire Prevention Month. He added, "The teachers should be thanked, too, for the job they do to teach the kids about fire prevention."

He concluded, "There are a lot of young kids coming in. The department is in good hands. They will always be my family; they have been a big part of my life. I have enjoyed every minute."