JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – In just a few days, 2017 will come to an end.December 31 will also bring to an end to a long time fire captain's days at the Jeffersonville Fire Department.
Captain Joseph "Marty" Stengel has been with the Jeffersonville Fire Department for 35 years. He will hang up his gear at the end of the year, saying goodbye to his firefighting days and his family at Fire Station Five.
"Captain's in the front seat of the engine. It's what I love to do," Jeffersonville Fire Department Captain Joseph "Marty" Stengel said.
For three and a half decades, Marty Stengel was a welcome sight to people in need of the fire department's help. But working at the Jeffersonville Fire Department came as a shock to many when he started in 1982.
"Back in my younger days, when I was a child, I was scared to death of fire trucks," Captain Stengel said.
Stengel's father brought him in to the fire department to see the trucks and learn about all they do to help others.
Since then, he's changed. And so has the way they fight fires in Jeffersonville.
"Protection," Stengel said putting on a mask that protects the face during fires. "You're pretty much protected. But when I started, you didn't have any of that. And when the guys before me started, they didn't have any of the stuff I had."
The technology inside the fire trucks lets responders track what kind of an incident they're responding to. A detailed map of the city sits inside so firefighters can pinpoint exactly where they're heading. Even the gear is better, and safer for firefighters when they respond.
But even with all the advances in how firefighters respond to emergencies, it's not always enough.
"The bad things, the people who have lost people. Those times you lose, you just don't get over that. You carry that with you for a long time," Stengel said.
The personal calls and the people you can't save, Stengel said, often stays with you and weighs on you. Those experiences can also help firefighters become better first responders, Stengel said.
After a career of stepping forward to save lives, Captain Stengel is stepping back. He retires at the end of December, and there's one thing he wanted the crew at Jeffersonville to remember.
"We don't win all the time. Sometimes you lose. And that's the time where you come back, you hang your head. And you tell these guys, it happens. And we do the best we can do," Stengel said.
It's the crew, his second family at the station, that Stengel said he'll miss most. The crew at the station said they'll miss talking with him, hearing his stories and his experiences from past fires.
Decades of people and stories filled Stengel's mind during his final few days at fire station five.
"Oh, I've had a lot of memories. I've had a lot of phone calls from past officers. And, it's tough," Stengel said.
He's leaving his work family at the fire station to spend more time with family at home. He's ready now to hang up the hat, boots and jacket for good.
"This right here is going to be training for one of these days when I'm gone. But I'm proud of it," Stengel said.
Captain Stengel retires as fire captain at the end of the year, but he won't be saying goodbye to the department for good. Stengel will be part of a new program within the City of Jeffersonville that connects retired firefighters with fire stations and firefighters in town.
The program helps him stay connected to the current fire crews and brings his experience and expertise to the newer members at Jeffersonville Fire.