By Shannon Johnson
On Saturday, May 11 an open house was held for Marvin Schopp at the Baker Fire Station. “Marvin is the first person on the Baker Fire Department that has ever been on for fifty years,” said Fire Chief, Tom Bruha. “He’s been a very committed and dedicated member of the fire department. He’s dedicated his life around it.”
Marvin grew up in Baker with his parents Chris, who worked at L. Price Company (John Deere) and Emma, who worked at the hospital. Marvin attended Baker High School and graduated in 1958 then began working. “I did odd jobs,” added Marvin. “And then I worked in the Texaco Service Station on the west end of town until I got drafted in the army.” Marvin served in the army from 1961 to 1963 before returning home to start his twenty-two-year career for John Deere.
After work Marvin would head down to the Cue and Brew where his future wife would be spending time with her girlfriends. He and Patsy, his wife of almost forty years, married on July 13, 1979 and raised a daughter, Emily.
Marvin began on the fire department in 1969 before there was even a fire district formed. “When I joined the fire department, we had one fire hall,” explained Marvin. “We had three trucks: two city trucks and one county truck.” One of the old city trucks, a 1930s fire truck, retired and found its home at the O’Fallon Historical Museum.
An addition was added onto the east side of the fire station and the Baker Fire Department was able to acquire more fire trucks. “We accumulated some surplus trucks from the military,” Marvin explained. “We ended up with a little air force pickup that we rigged up and that’d give us another truck in the county. After a couple years of that we gained a 6×6 army truck and we made a tanker out of it.”
After years of running with old military trucks converted into fire trucks, Baker Fire Department finally started to see some revenue coming in. “We could update and get newer equipment,” Marvin said. “We built the addition on, so we’d have room for the other trucks.”
“We never dreamed we’d see a fire hall like we have today. I mean that’s awesome,” gushed Marvin. “It’s the end of the world. It’s fantastic. We figured we’d get a new fire hall eventually, but we never figured we’d get one like that.”
Marvin has seen a lot of changes throughout his fifty years on the fire department, especially in equipment used. “The equipment we have now is phenomenal. We never had protective gear when I came on,” he explained. “You wore the clothes you had on your back.”
Protocol hasn’t changed nearly as much as the technology used, according to Marvin. “That runs about the same. The state has updated us to do different things we never had to do back then,” he continued. “Now you have to have at least thirty hours of training a year and before we never had to worry about whether you needed training hours or anything. It’s still all the same, just that technology has come up to where they expect a little more than what we used to do.”
“It doesn’t take long for the equipment to jump to obsolete,” said Marvin. “Your air packs, your breathing apparatuses, they’re limited now to every five years. You have to get the tanks tested and you have to update everything. There’s continuously updates on everything.”
Marvin had a feeling that’d he’d be on the fire department for a long time when he started. “I never got on to retire. I just got on because I like it. The people are great to work with and I just enjoy it, all the time,” Marvin admitted. “There’s really not much fun in firefighting, but it’s the people you get to meet that make it enjoyable. We get to run and help our neighboring towns and counties and it feels good that you can go and help them.”
Congratulations Marvin Schopp and THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!