(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) After four decades, St. Joseph Fire Chief Mike Dalsing is turning in his badge. The city announced in early May, Chief Dalsing will retire on June 10.
"I think it's just time," said Fire Chief Mike Dalsing. "I don't know how else you'd put it. It's been an honor. We've been so lucky that the citizens have supported us and the business community as well."
Chief Dalsing started with the fire department on December 10, 1979, and in 2008, he stepped into the role of chief.
Dalsing's career working for the fire department started in St. Joseph and never left. The chief said he had no family ties who were firefighters and got his kickstart at the age of 21 when he joined the guard.
"I went through their fire school, and when I came out, at that time, the city had firefighters over at the airport," said Dalsing. "So two or three of them tried to convince me to take them on, and I kind of waited a little bit, but then eventually I did take the test and came on."
The chief served 23 years in the Missouri Air National Guard with the last eight years as chief of the deployable fire department. He was certified as a paramedic throughout most of his career.
With Dalsing's background as a paramedic, he was instrumental in pushing for first responding training across the fire department, teaching several classes over the years.
"The old fire chief John McGarry had wanted to start the first responder program. But he kind of allowed me to run with it," said Chief Dalsing. "And we started that back in the early 90s. And once we got the first responder program in place, it just this gradually evolved over the years." Saying about 100 of 125 firefighters are at the EMT level currently.
The Chief also played a big part in overseeing the completion of Fire Station 9, 11, and 12 and the building of Fire Station 8, including safety upgrades to stations across the city.
When it comes to the city of St. Joseph, Dalsing has been very pleased over the years with the department's relationship with city leaders and businesses, including the citizens of the city. He added that the department was lucky enough that the citizens approved a public safety tax, resulting in a lot of pressure taken off of the department when trying to provide safety equipment for the community.
Looking back on his career, the Mitchell Ceed building fire and the Furniture Emporium fire stick out for Dalsing. He said both fires were within a month of each other and completely burned down buildings in downtown St. Joseph. But it was an event on the night of New Year's Day that stood out the most for him. "We had a fire and I will never forget that because I was about as cold as I'd ever been. Our ladder truck froze up, we had to drive it back with the ladder stuck out. And it was just anything that could go wrong went wrong at night."
Dalsing will be followed by interim Chief Kenny Cordonnier. The chief said he has no doubt that Cordonnier will continue to work hard on the completion of Fire Station 8 and will serve to the best of his abilities until the hiring of a new Fire Chief.
"This is a job like no other. We really produce nothing, he said. "We don't make widgets, gadgets, gears, or anything, but what we provide is service and you just never know what you're going to do that day."
Chief Dalsing received these additional accolades during his time such as Chief Fire Officer by the Commission on Professional Credentialing in 2016 and was an active member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Missouri Fire Chiefs, and the Kansas City area Heart of America Fire Chiefs. Dalsing served on the boards of the Safety and Health Council, United Way, and St. Joseph Youth Soccer Association.