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Retiring TFD firefighters sign off

By Kayleigh Rahn
Tuscola Fire Department said farewell to three long-time crewmembers Wednesday, June 27 during walk out ceremonies at the south fire station.

TFD Lt. Steve Cook, Engineer Elvin Kauffman, and Engineer Mike Thomas closed their careers after decades of service to the city.

For Cook, TFD has always been about brotherhood.

“When I received the call from Chief Hettinger that I was accepted onto the department I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” he said. “My dad had just found out he had cancer, but I told the chief I would go ahead and try to see if I could make it through. My dad passed away while we were still (probationary firefighters).”

Cook told Chief Hettinger he was going to miss a meeting, because it was the same night of the visitation.

“He said, ‘be with your family,’” Cook recalled. “That night the whole department came through, and that taught me what brotherhood was like and being part of the fire service.

A week later 9/11 rocked the nation.

“I think those two things truly taught me what brotherhood was for the fire service,” Cook said. “Even though the fire service has changed over the years, one thing remains the same –the brotherhood of the firefighters. Once a brother, always a brother.”

He said Chief Dietrich, Chief Hettinger, and now Chief Moody have built a department the residents of Tuscola should be proud to call their own.

“I’m proud to be a part of the best department in this county,” he said. “Ask any of our peers and they will tell you that Tuscola Fire Department is at the top of the list.”

Cook also thanked his family.

“Without the sacrifice of family, none of us could do the job that we do,” he said.

Kauffman thanked the crew and their families for attending.

“There is saying in the fire department that once you become a firefighter the families of the department become one big extended family,” he said. “I can say that is true of this department all of you have been like family to me and I want to thank you all for being a part of it.”

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, July 4 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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