Lucareli Served 27 Years with Marshfield Fire Department
MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – After 27 years with Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department (MFRD), Deputy Chief Jon Lucareli retired Wednesday morning with a special sendoff from the department.
A Racine native, Lucareli graduated from UW-Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Science in Education. His friend encouraged him to pursue a job in fire service because teacher’s jobs at the time were competitive, so he agreed to give it a try and joined Rib Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.
“The first active real fire I was on, I absolutely loved it. From that point forward, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life,” said Lucareli. “Back then, having a fire degree wasn’t as important. Rib Mountain helped me a lot. I went through every fire certificate that the State of Wisconsin offered.”
After serving with Rib Mountain from 1991-1994, he applied to dozens of full time departments and ended up accepting a highly competitive position at Marshfield Fire & Rescue.
“One of the things that was different at that time was during the first day on the job there was no training. You walked in the door and you were expected to be a firefighter from the moment you started,” he recalled.
Serving originally with Blue Shift, Lucareli also joined at a time when Marshfield was establishing a paramedic program – the first fire department in Central Wisconsin to do so. This meant hours of classes on top of regular working hours.
“Going through class as a department brought us closer together,” said Lucareli. “It was a trying time and it wasn’t unusual to have 100 hours a week between work and school.”
Though he joined the department primarily to be a firefighter, he embraced the medical side of the job quickly.
“The only reason I wanted to be an EMT was so I could be a firefighter and it turned out I really enjoyed the EMT side of it, too,” said Lucareli. “I was excited to be a medic. It’s very rewarding.”
During his career at MFRD, Lucareli advanced through the ranks from firefighter/paramedic to Acting Lieutenant (a position that no longer exists), then Lieutenant (a role that Chief Jim Schmidt brought back to the department), and now retires as Deputy Chief. Throughout this time, he has witnessed many changes within the department and in the industry.
“Moving to the new building was a big deal. Becoming a paramedic was a big deal. Getting lieutenant positions back was a big deal,” he said. “By far the biggest change is how far EMS has come. It’s absolutely unbelievable. The paramedics that are on now are so head and shoulders above what I did at the time. The fire service is changing over more to of an EMS role.”
For anyone considering a role in fire service, Lucareli offers important advice.
“First of all, you have to be the type of person that has to enjoy serving others. This job is definitely not for everybody. You have to get that you are going to be serving a community,” he said. “Now for the job, perks: it’s an exciting job. No day is ever the same. You have to be able to go with the flow. ‘Adapt and overcome’ is one of my favorite sayings down here. It is a strange life. Each call is so different. You get a new set of challenges every day.”
He also said to be prepared to miss family holidays and celebrations.
“I’d like to thank my wife, Gerilynn, for being so understanding with my scheduling,” he said, also thanking his children Jessica and Joe Babbitts, Ashlynn Babbitts and Kate Lucareli.
Though he’s looking forward to a retirement full of hunting, fishing, golfing, and family time, Lucareli said there are parts of the job he will miss.
“You work with a great bunch of people here. The majority of the people in the fire and EMS field, they want to do something good. They want to give something back. They are a special group,” he said. “I won’t miss getting up at 3:00 AM, but I will miss the guys and gals the most.”
At 8:00am on November 17, Lucareli is scheduled to receive a send-off in style.
“I had a great 27 years helping the citizens of Marshfield, I really did. When times were tough here, I kept in focus how I was helping the citizens. That was a go-to thing when stuff wasn’t going as well as it could be.”
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