Newberry Fire Department recently honored Burt Mohler for his retirement after 26 years of service to the city’s fire department.
Mohler retired on June 28 as a Captain within the department. The ceremony was held on Monday, July 8 at the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center for Mohler’s friends, family and colleagues.
Mohler was presented several gifts on behalf of the fire department as well as the City of Newberry during the ceremony.
On behalf of the fire department, Fire Chief Keith Minick presented Mohler with a commemorative bronze extinguisher, which is customary for retiring captains.
The Newberry Honor Guard presented Mohler with the fire department flag that flew during his final shift at Station 21. The Honor Guard is made up of members who volunteer their time to go to retirements, funerals, or other circumstances to represent the department in proper fashion, Minick said.
Following the presentation of gifts, the Newberry County Communications Center made a “last call” broadcast in Mohler’s honor.
Several shift members made presentations including Lt. Stuart Smith who presented Mohler with their “B” shift’s flag, that he had designed for them.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for us,” Smith said. “You’ve supported us and been there for us.”
Minick explained that each shift designs a flag that they’re proud of to display on the fire engine. Mohler’s shift flag was retired with him.
“It’s just a little piece pride and ownership within the department,” Minick said.
Surrounded by a family with those in the service, Mohler said it had to be meant to be that he was too having been involved in the police explorers and attending the cadet program at the academy, EMS and finally, the fire department.
“In 1993, I finally got the chance to become a career firefighter,” he said. “Still not forgetting about my police experience, I later became a reserve officer for the city.”
Mohler said he had been blessed to receive all the knowledge from all of the first responder positions he’d held.
“It’s allowed me to be well-rounded in all kinds of situations and give the community the best I could,” he said.
Throughout his years as a first responder, Mohler said he had seen many things, from bringing life into the world during his time with EMS to the unfortunate loss of life. Mohler said he’d seen the city fire service grow during this time from having one station to now, having two.
“I was blessed to be involved in the saving of a man’s life from fire which is every firefighter’s golden mission,” he said.
To those who started the journey with him many years ago, Mohler said he considers them family and thanks them for the many memories he will never forget. For the newcomers to the fire service, he encourages them to learn the ABC’s of saving a person’s life.
“What it really should mean, is how the public looks at us,” Mohler said. “Appearance, behavior and compassion.”
Mohler said they each owed it to the public for their shoes to be tied, their shirts be tucked and when walking in the door to be sure the public knew that they want to be there.
“Always remember the traditions of the fire service and never forget the ones before you,” he said. “Respect the ones above you, for they have been where you are today. Move up from many hours of training and experience and learn from it.”
Mohler described the fire service as an extended family with one goal and one purpose, all in it together.
A special thank you, Mohler said went out to his family that had supported him completely, he said even when his duties as a fireman interfered with holidays, birthdays, vacations, and more.
“I love you endlessly,” he told them.
Following his speech, Mohler’s children Laura, Sarah and Noah recited the poem, “Why God Created a Fireman.”
Mohler’s sister, Kathy Wicker said that God created special people to be firefighters and first responders and that her brother was truly one of those special individuals created to fulfil that role.
“I’ve watched with pride as he became the man that he is today, she said of Mohler. “And I thank him for his service.”
Mohler’s wife Lynn spoke of the past in the fire service when telegraphs were used to communicate with special codes via fire alarm boxes.
“When a fireman was killed or fell in the line of duty, the fire alarm would tap out a special signal,” she said. “This would be tapped out in five measured dashes, pause and then five more measured dashes. This came to be known as the tolling of the bells; a symbol of honor and respect that transformed into the ringing of an actual bell.”
In honor of Mohler, Lynn presented a bell to the Newberry Fire Department so that they could continue the tradition of honoring the selfless men and women that completed their tasks on Earth and had been called home.
Volunteer firefighter Ben Bowers said Mohler cared deeply about the citizens of Newberry that he served.
“You remember your losses and remember your saves, but sometimes you never know the lives you have saved,” Bowers said to Mohler.
Bowers said that Mohler was one of the reasons he became interested in performing fire inspections and hopes that what he learned from him will help him touch and save lives, even if he never knows how many.
Fire Chief Keith Minick spoke of Mohler and said while they may not have always seen eye to eye, he thinks that’s what made them a stronger team.
“I think that’s what made us stronger in real time, because we were able to come to a conclusion of what was best for the city of Newberry’s citizens,” Minick said. “I appreciate what you’ve done for me, the department and the city of Newberry as a whole.”
Whether it was lives in the community with the department’s Goodfellow Baskets, the golf tournament fundraiser, or anything else he put his efforts into, Minick said Mohler made a difference and that he was appreciated.
Minick thanked Mohler’s family for allowing him to be a part of the department family.
“We congratulate you on your retirement,” he said.
Captain Burt Mohler pictured with Fire Chief Keith Minick
Burt Mohler pictured with his wife, Lynn and daughters Sarah (left), Laura (right) and son Noah.
Sitting from L-R: Lt. Stuart Smith, Retired Capt. Blake Davis, Capt. Tim Swygert, Retired Capt. Burt Mohler, Admin. Asst. Lucille Kinard, Capt. Andrew Morris, Chief Keith Minick
Second row L-R: Vol. FF Chris Johnson – Honor Guard, Firefighter Chris Fulmer, Eng. Robert Dowd, Lt. Chris Connelly, Lt. Brian Beck, Eng. Michael Parker – Honor Guard, Firefighter Kody Jacobs, Firefighter Jake Longshore, Vol. FF Chansel Minick, Eng. Daniel Werts
Back row L-R: Firefighter R J Doran, Chaplin James Henricks, Retired Eng. Benji Morris, Vol. FF Ben Bowers, Retired Lt. Jimmy Bickley, Firefighter Tyler Truesdale, Vol. FF Corey Shealy, Eng. Ben Dukes, Firefighter Carlisle Barwick, Vol. FF J C Counts