As of Tuesday, Dale Martin no longer has to worry about being forced to roll out of bed in the middle of the night. That’s someone else’s job now that he’s retired from his post as chief of the Woolwich Fire Department.
Responding to emergencies is something he’s done for most of the last 43 years since he first joined the Elmira station in 1978. He was named the township’s deputy chief in 2008, taking on responsibility for enhanced training requirements. He took over the top spot in 2017 following the retirement of his predecessor, Rick Pedersen.
“I’m going to be 65 in October, so I always knew that was going to be the end day. You leave with mixed emotions, but I always knew that I’d know when the time is right, and that’s now,” he said on August 31, his last day on the job.
“It’s time for somebody new to take over – it’s been a good ride.”
Martin says he won’t miss the pager going off at all hours, nor the sometimes painful parts of responding to emergency situations.
“It’s the people that I’m going to miss,” he said, calling the job a big positive in his life.
“I enjoyed every minute of it. There was days that were bad because of what happened, but we overcame them, too,” he said.
“I found that the chief’s job could be challenging, because you had to have a good balance between compassion and still doing your job. And sometimes that line was pretty blurry for me – being in a small community, you tend to know most people, so you could get emotionally involved.”
This is Martin’s second retirement, having retired from his job of 34 years at Reist Industries prior to becoming chief. This time, it will be for real, complete with some fishing.
“The first order of business is I want to become a volunteer at the Grand River Hospital, because in 2013 I had a bout of cancer. When I was in the hospital, I felt volunteers had really made a difference for me. So I thought that’s something I can do when I retire – I owe that to myself,” he said of his retirement plans, noting that the hospital duties will have to wait until after the pandemic when new volunteers will be taken on.
The pandemic has also put on hold any international travel plans, at least for the time being.
The township is currently conducting interviews for a new fire chief, with chief administrative officer David Brenneman noting the position could be filled within a week or so.
“Dale was an exceptional fire chief because he was always calm under pressure and provided a quiet level of confidence in handling any situation. Over the years, he always struck a good balance of providing strong leadership when it was needed, as well as compassion and empathy when the situation called for it,” he said of Martin.