Dale Miekes, of Northwood, never fantasized about becoming a fireman as a young boy. Now, some 50 years later, Miekes has to restrain himself from answering the alarm.
“I was asked to join the department in 1963,” Miekes said with a chuckle. “They really needed the help and they said it would just be temporary. As a kid, it never entered my mind that I wanted to be a firefighter. Now, 50 years later, I am still helping them. I retired June 1 and when I hear the sirens, I still want to go.”
Miekes, a retired construction worker with IBEW Local 8, said the intricacies of the firefighting job kept him in his temporary position.
“The training really intrigued me,” Miekes said. “I really liked the medical training the most. I was able to bring EMS training to the department.”
Being with fellow firefighters also kept Miekes involved with the department.
“They really are a bunch of great guys,” he said. “There was a lot of camaraderie and the people really appreciated us.
Fire Chief Joel Whitmore, said Miekes started the first EMS training in 1968. Whitmore added that he also trained firefighters when the city received its first tele-squirt truck.
“Dale is a friendly guy who was always willing to help out the new guys in the department,” Whitmore said. “We recognized him this spring at our Firefighter of the Year Banquet. He received several state and local proclamations including one from our Mayor (Mark Stoner). He was with us for 50 years and that really says a lot.”
Miekes said delivering a baby, rescuing people from buildings, fires and car accidents are things he remembers quite well.
“I guess what really stands out is the time in the early 1970’s when we rescued a family of five after they were hit by a train,” Miekes said. “The man was a fellow firefighter and it was Christmas Eve. He was driving a brand new Mustang with three kids in the back. He had waited at Vicker’s Crossing, near Drouillard and Wales roads, for a train to pass. He started to cross and did not see the second train approaching. We had to use the Jaws of Life to get them out. We had to get under the car to get the children out. Luckily, everybody survived.”
Miekes said he is the only one in his family who wanted to be a firefighter. He and his late wife, Sally, who passed away in 1994, had four children: Kevin, who lives in Curtice; Renee who lives in Middleton Township; Patty, who resides in Findlay and Brenda, who lives in Arizona.
Married to his current wife, Joyce, since 1999, the couple has eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
“None of the kids wanted to be a firefighter,” Miekes said. “I think the children saw how much training there was to it and how much I was gone. They did not want to be a part of it.”
Although he fights the urge to answer the call for help, Miekes said he is happy in retirement.
“I can tell you, I miss the camaraderie with the fellas,” he said. “But I do not miss getting up in the middle of the night.”