By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.— From rescues to house fires to M-15 auto crashes, veteran township firefighter Marty Short has been there.
In August, after more than 26 years of service to the community, Short has retired..
“I joined because I thought it would be interesting and more importantly a great way to give back to the community,” said Short, 51. The job has been a challenge. You never know what you’re getting when you go on a call.”
A Hale, Michigan native Short joined the township fire department in 1996 when James Naugler was fire chief.
Short recalled some rather unique calls over the next quarter of a century.
In 2004, a 76-year-old female driver was westbound on Hegel Road at about 11 a.m. Jan. 17, when her car started to slide and it flipped into a frozen pond. After hitting an embankment, the white 1992 Buick Century landed upside down, gradually sinking below the ice.
Genesee County Sheriff Deputies along with other motorists arrived to pull the victim from the pond.
Among the first firefighters was Short.
“I geared up and jumped in the water to see if there was anyone else in the car,” recalled Short. “The water was about four feet deep with a thin layer of ice. I got in the car to see there was no one else in the car.”
From house fires, to car accidents to many dryer fires, Short responded to hundreds of calls.
“I try not to remember the fatal accidents,” he said. “But M-15 produced many. I also drove the truck and recall many drivers who just won’t get out of the way.”
Short said one of the biggest advancements during his career was the much improved communications.
“Back in the day we had pagers to alert us to a call,” he said. “They just did not work. Today, with new cell phones and radios it’s much improved and saves lives. All that improves response time.”
Updated the firefighting gear has made a big difference.
“I never got burned, but during a big fire in Ortonville I melted the plastic on my coat,” he said. “It was just a very hot fire. I’ve also gone into burning buildings looking for victims where the equipment kept me safe.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with the fire department over the years,” he said. “Every call was unique and it was an honor to help others out and give me a chance to give back.”
I still hear the sirens when they go off, but I turned my cell phone off and don’t get the calls anymore,” he said. “I was called out during holidays, late at night, and lots of times right in the middle of family gatherings.”
By David Fleet