Shane Schmidt retires from Alexandria Fire Department, passes helmet to son, ShaynenJuly 18 marked a unique event for the Alexandria Fire Department. On this day, Shane Schmidt retired after 23 years of service – but this wasn’t a typical retirement.
By: Jenna Galstad, Alexandria Echo Press
July 18 marked a unique event for the Alexandria Fire Department. On this day, Shane Schmidt retired after 23 years of service – but this wasn’t a typical retirement.
When a firefighter retires, his helmet generally retires with him. It is set aside or taken home as a keepsake for the years of dedicated service to the fire department.
However, on this special occasion, things went a little differently. The helmet that has S. Schmidt on it won’t be gathering dust anytime soon, because another S. Schmidt will proudly be wearing it.
When the fire department accepted Shane’s retirement letter, they also accepted a new member – Shane’s son, Shaynen. Where there is normally a 30-day waiting period for new members to begin after someone retires, this unique event made Alexandria history.
Shane was even able to read the new member oath aloud for Shaynen to repeat.
Shaynen served on the Garfield Fire Department for nine years before he made the move to Alexandria, so he has plenty of experience in the firefighting field.
“I grew up watching my dad on the fire department. All little boys dream of big red fire trucks. I like helping people; it’s an adrenaline rush,” Shaynen explained why he was drawn to be a firefighter.
Surprisingly, Shane didn’t have the same reasons for joining the fire department as his son.
“I hadn’t thought much about it, but they had an opening and I was recommended to the department. They asked me to consider, so I did,” said Shane.
Over the last 23 years, Shane has served at almost every position on the fire department: secretary, captain, lieutenant, 2nd assistant chief, and fire chief from 2003-2009. Currently, he is the president of the Minnesota State Fire Department and is an alternate member to the Governor’s Council on Fire Prevention and Control.
Shane’s involvement with the fire department didn’t only spark an interest in his son, but in two other family members as well. Shane’s nephew and nephew-in-law, Jason Schmidt and Myke Pilgrim, are also currently serving on the Alexandria Fire Department because of the role Shane has played.
Shane shared the biggest reason he enjoyed being a part of the fire department for 23 years:
“It’s about helping people – helping those that are rushing out when we are rushing in. Helping those that are in need and want our help, that’s where we get our strength. I’ve seen firefighters do things that others would not. The experience, friends and traditions I received from being part of a great organization will be something I will treasure for a lifetime. In the words of Kirby Puckett, don’t take life for granted, because tomorrow isn’t promised to any one of us.”
For the first time in the Alexandria Fire Department’s history, a father was able to pass his helmet to his son, keeping the firefighting tradition alive for years to come.