OnFocus Person of the Year: Scott Owen

Chief Scott Owen

MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – Marshfield Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Owen ended his 25-year career of serving the citizens of Marshfield this year. His last day in the office was 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.

Badge-pinning ceremony, 1997

“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.

Owen in 2001

“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.

Owen’s longstanding commitment to the City of Marshfield is much appreciated. He is an OnFocus Person of the Year for 2021.

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News Desk
Author: News Desk