Owen to Retire in December
MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – Marshfield Fire & Rescue Chief Scott Owen informed leadership yesterday that he will be retiring later this year. His last day in the office will be December 17, with his official separation date being January 4, 2022.
“I am very proud to have served the City and the citizens over the last 25+ years,” Owen said. “I have the highest admiration and respect for each member in this department. We chose to go into the professions to help people. We run in and deal with situations when people are at their worst. It takes a special kind of person to do that and not everyone is cut out for it.”
Earlier this year, Owen celebrated his official anniversary of 25 years with the City of Marshfield. In total, he has three decades of experience in the service.
“It’s been a great journey so far,” Owen told OnFocus in April. “It’s been a good time here. I’ve seen a lot; we’ve done a lot.”
Having grown up in Cudahy (a suburb of Milwaukee), prior to his position with the City, Owen held positions within the 440th Air Force Reserve Fire Department and with Bell Ambulance in Milwaukee.
Originally planning to pursue a career in photography after high school, Owen attended a career event at Milwaukee Area Technical College that changed his plans.
“When I was in high school, I was big into photography, big into the yearbook. I developed all of our own pictures and spent a lot of time in the dark room developing area,” he said. “Then I went to a career event at MATC and took three courses: Photography, Law Enforcement and Paramedic. In Paramedic, they performed some skills that I found to be fascinating and that hooked me. After that, I started looking into firefighting and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Though he has no immediate family in protective service careers, Owen’s second cousin Mark was influential as he went through schooling.
“He gave me one of his very first fire coats and I still have that today,” said Owen. “Now he’s enjoying retirement.”
An EMT since 1990, Owen gravitated more toward EMS and firefighting than paramedic.
“Paramedic is fascinating. It’s just something that never really came to be with me,” he said. “But that’s ok because I started focusing more on the fire side of it. I’ve really enjoyed the firefighting.”
Owen joined Marshfield Fire & Rescue in July of 1996, starting as a Firefighter/EMT-Basic and receiving several promotions throughout the years, including Relief Deputy Fire Chief in 2001, Deputy Fire Chief- Shift Command in 2008 (his favorite position), Deputy Fire Chief of EMS in 2013, and Interim Chief in March 2017, and promoted to Fire Chief in June 2017.
“I’ve been lucky to be here. When I got the call to work here, I accepted right away,” he said. “I called my wife and told her we’re moving to Marshfield and she said, ‘Where is Marshfield?’ Now, it’s home.”
In his 25 years at Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department, Owen has witnessed everything from adding cell phones in ambulances to the construction of a new department building and new state-of-the-art fire apparatus and ambulances.
“We’ve seen so much change. Technology has been huge. Technology has changed everything that we do,” he said. “Sometimes not for the better, but it’s improved and enhanced our operation.”
Annual emergency calls have increased from approximately 2,200 when he started to now being upwards of 3,600.
“That’s big. When you have a small department running 3,600 emergency calls per year…that is a lot of calls,” he said.
During his tenure, Owen has seen significant changes in both MFRD and the fire/paramedic profession as a whole, but one thing remains the same: those who enter the profession have a passion for helping those in need.
“I have always enjoyed helping people, and while it’s cliche to say I got into this to help people, it truly is the reason I got into it,” he said. “We tend to see people at their worst, whether on an ambulance call or a fire. We see them on the worst day that they are having. To me, it’s important to do everything that we can to try and get them through that period of time and to help them.”
In his career, Owen has experienced a wide variety of incidents, and in all of them his goal has been to help as much as possible.
“I’ve had to do CPR on a two-month old, all the way up to a 102 year-old. I’ve run the gamut,” he said. “I’ve had to go on fatal car accidents, seen kids that have been killed. It’s not easy. It’s not for everybody. Not everybody could do this job. Those that do, they have something inside of them that says ‘I wanna help’. That’s me.”
In 2017, a young boy with cancer named Lincoln Schrock became an honorary firefighter. Owen said this experience was one of his most memorable and touching during his time so far as Chief.
“Lincoln was an awesome kid and I am so happy we were able to make this day all about him,” said Owen. “He was so excited to be here, as was his family. When he passed away it was extremely hard on all of us. We had lost a brother.”
Along with a passion for helping others, Owen holds an Associate Degree in Fire Science Technology from Milwaukee Area Technical College and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University. He also holds multiple certificates, including Fire Officer I and II, Emergency Services Instructor I and II, Firefighter I and II, Fire Inspector, and Driver/Operator Certifications for Pumper and Aerial.
During his time as Chief, department members undertook certification to become Critical Care providers – the highest level of pre-hospital care for which the State of Wisconsin accredits.
He also managed the department during the challenges of 2020, finding creative ways to communicate with and educate the public.
“My job is making sure that everybody here is being taken care of so they can take care of everyone out there,” he said. “I take care of the well being of this department. I do everything possible to make sure we are the best department we can be for the City of Marshfield. I am so proud of every member of our department. I have the utmost respect for each and every one of them. They are family.”
Owen and wife, Julie, manage a small hobby farm complete with alpacas, llamas, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and rabbits – something he plans to continue enjoying in retirement.
September 24, 2021
Mr. Mike Meyers
President Marshfield Police and Fire Commission
207 W. 6th Street
Marshfield, WI 54449
Dear President Meyers:
Over the last year I have experienced several challenges both personally and professionally. In order to do what I believe is in the best interest of me and my family, I have decided to end my twenty-five (25) year career by retiring as the Fire Chief of the City of Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department. My last day in the office will be Friday, December 17, 2021 and I will be using up the rest of my vacation days with the official separation from the City on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.
Words alone cannot express how much of an honor it has been to serve the citizens of Marshfield over the past 25 years as a Firefighter, Deputy Chief, and finally as the Fire Chief. It is with appreciation to the Police and Fire Commission, City staff, elected and appointed officials, the citizens of Marshfield, and of course, the men and women of the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department that I had this opportunity to do a job that I loved and was committed to every day. I always did what I thought was best for the Department and the members, regardless if it went against the wishes of others.
Looking back over the last 25 years the best of the job I held was being the Deputy Chief in charge of the Blue Shift. Being on shift is where the members truly make a difference in people’s lives. I see our crews out in the field doing what they need to do to enhance the lives and protect the property of those we serve. The department has experienced many changes in over the past several years with many more to come.
As I transition out of the department and into a new way of life, I leave with the confidence that the Department will continue to be led forward by our dedicated and talented staff. It is not easy to walk away from a truly rewarding career and an amazing group of individuals I have had the pleasure of working with over the last 25 years. I am honored to have been a part of this noble profession and have nothing but respect and pride for the men and women I have served with and now will leave behind.
In closing, it has been my privilege and honor to serve the community with members of this department in the many roles I held. As their current Fire Chief, I would like to personally thank each department member for their dedication and determination to the organization and the citizens. I am proud to say I was a member of one of the best fire departments in the State of Wisconsin. While I look forward to spending more time with my family, I will always treasure the days where I was part of being involved in what can only be described as the greatest job in the world.
Scott M. Owen, Sr., Fire Chief
We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!