Marvin Schopp, a volunteer firefighter, was awarded a plaque for 48 years of dedicated service to the Baker Fire Department at their annual awards night on Saturday evening, April 22.
By Sherry Vogel
Marvin, who has been with the department since 1969, didn’t expect to receive an award at the banquet and was quite taken back when Chief Tom Bruha called him forward to present him with the award.
The night was all the more special as the function also served as the department’s annual Ladies Night and Marvin’s wife Patsy was present to share in the moment.
When Schopp was asked “What is Ladies Night about?” He shared the plight of a fire fighter’s wife or girlfriend. Seems the wife can never count on a ride home when she and her firefighter go out together. Whether it is in the middle of dining out or art a formal wedding, when the pager vibrates it is time to leave. Marvin stated, “They (spouses) put up with a lot, but it seems they always get a ride home,” he chuckled.
Over the past 48 years Marvin has seen many changes in the life of the Baker Fire Department. He laughed when asked, “How have things changed?” Although the department’s members have remained at 28, as it was when he joined, everything else has changed drastically.
Marvin remembers when the department consisted of only three fire trucks in comparison to the 20 that they possess today. He shared, “Of course the old fire station can’t compare with the new station. Our new building is fabulous. We used to have to move the trucks out of the station to hold fire-training meetings. Now we have a separate beautiful large training room.”
This led up to a discussion on how fire-fighting technology has changed over Marvin’s service years. Schopp remembers when the volunteer fighters were summoned by telephone to come out to fight a fire. He said, “The phone would ring in the firefighter’s homes/offices. The ring was a little different as it was a continuous ring. The firefighter would pick up the phone and they would listen to learn the location of the fire. He added, “We would drop everything and come to the fire just as we were. We wore street clothes. We didn’t have fire proof uniforms or helmets, nothing like the turnouts we wear today.”
In addition to fighting fires, the department often times accompanies the Baker Ambulance Service out to motor vehicle accident sites. They assist in transferring accident victims and are equipped with the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic rescue tool that is able to extract crash victims who are trapped in their vehicles.
One of the fun community events that the firefighters sponsor each year is Santa Claus Day. Marvin commented, “We began sponsoring that event in the old fire hall. It is special each year to watch those cute little kids walk up to Santa Claus.” When asked, “What do you like best about being a firefighter?” Schopp responded, “I enjoy working with everybody. I like the people I work alongside. This past year when my wife and I got hard hit by the tornado, these guys treated us great. They helped us get through it.”
Whether Marvin is driving the tanker truck to a rural fire, or manning the radio for a city fire, he continues after these 48 years to enjoy the camaraderie of the brotherhood of local firefighters as they serve the community of Baker.