Mary Alice Reporting – Traveling around the United States is a top goal for a local fire department lieutenant as he gets ready to retire.

Lt. Mike Pearch has been serving the community for 32 years and his last day, at the New Philadelphia Fire Department, is Friday.

In 1988, he was working at TimkenSteel Mill when a family friend, who was a fire captain, encouraged Pearch to take an upcoming test for an open position.

“I kind of felt obligated to take the test since I told him I would. I scored second on the test and the guy that scored first had a DUI and they passed him over. Back in the day, you didn’t need any training. They would hire you and they would send you to school. That’s what happened to me. I didn’t have any training and I didn’t know anything about the fire department.”

His full-time career has been with the New Philadelphia station with a short, part-time stint at Bolivar.

Over the years, changes have occurred with the most noticeable being the call for firefighters to be trained paramedics and the uptick in call volume.

“I remember when I first started, in 1988, we had like 770 some calls was what we did for the year. Now, I think we might be pushing 3,000 this year. Everything has picked up quite a bit and using the ambulance service a lot more.”

Working at the fire station has been a great career for him and Pearch adds that he has also worked with many amazing people.

“I try to tell our new guys this, a lot of people have jobs but I really feel like this is a career. It’s somewhere you can come, you help people, and it’s kind of like a family. You get to know the people you work with and I feel like if that’s the way you think about it, you do better at what you do.”

Additionally, Pearch notes that, with the new fire station being built, a fire prevention office was created that he headed to work with businesses about safety and regulations. This job now goes to Captain Jim Sholtz.

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