Hillsdale Daily News, Mich.
Jul. 1—HILLSDALE — For nearly four decades, veteran firefighter Cpt. Steve McDowell, of the Hillsdale City Fire Department, has answered the call to duty and rushed out the door to be a guardian angel on the worst days of many lives.
After 39 years, at the age of 57, McDowell is set to hang up his gear one last time on Sept. 1.
McDowell has been a full-time firefighter for the city of Hillsdale for the past 21 years, but prior to that, he served 18 years on the Hillsdale Rural Fire Department (now known as the Hillsdale Township Fire Department) where he eventually reached the rank of Chief.
“Being able to serve the community for the past 39 years has been my honor,” McDowell said. “To help save life and property. And I thank the good Lord above that He gave me the opportunity to be able to do this job and to serve this way…to be a positive figure in the city.”
McDowell’s interest in the fire protection service was sparked by the television show “Emergency!” that he watched as a teenager.
With a few of his uncles and a cousin serving on the then Hillsdale Rural Fire Department at the time, McDowell did a ride along one day with one of his uncles and became set on becoming a firefighter.
As the years progressed and his experience grew, McDowell eventually took on a mentorship role in his position as Chief of the Hillsdale Rural Fire Department prior to becoming a full-time firefighter with the city of Hillsdale.
And with this experience, McDowell said he has always had the same advice for younger people getting into the fire protection service, no matter which department.
“I would advise them to take it seriously, go to your training and listen closely to what’s being told and practice!” McDowell said. “Go in and learn the equipment and where it’s at…anything that’s possible to further your education in firefighting. It’s going to get you a long way.”
McDowell said that newer firefighters, like the veterans, should never think they have seen it all or know it all because there is always new ways of fighting fire and “the goal, my goal, has always been to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the day.”
Some of the most memorable opportunities he has had over the years was conducting fire safety training for various groups in the community including the senior center and at the schools. He contributes these training iterations and city inspections the fire department performs with fire prevention in the city.
McDowell said, he has met a lot of great firefighters in service working various fires over the years.
McDowell’s family is planning a retirement party for later in September although further details have yet to be set in stone. He would like to invite any and all firefighters, past or present, that he has had the pleasure of serving with to attend.
In retirement, McDowell plans on finding a part-time job to help occupy his time, hunting, fishing and spending time at his cabin up north.
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