By Kathleen Swift • Photo by Mandy Edmonson
Mark Metsker worked as an EMT when he first applied for a position with the Webb City Fire Department 40 years ago. Now, as battalion chief, Metsker has seen it all in his career.
“There’s always variety as a fire fighter,” said Metsker. “No two days are alike and no two calls are alike. We may go out for a fire, or we might do business inspections. We respond to emergency medical calls, and if there isn’t an ambulance available, we can provide basic life support until an ambulance can get to the scene. All of the firefighters in Webb City are either licensed EMTs or licensed paramedics. We also test the flow on the fire hydrants and maintain them. We inspect the schools once a year and give talks to community groups. Before the COVID pandemic, we were able to provide blood pressure screenings at the firehouse, and we hope we can do that again.”Mark Metsker worked as an EMT when he first applied for a position with the Webb City Fire Department 40 years ago. Now, as battalion chief, Metsker has seen it all in his career.
Metsker likes the entire job, including the ongoing training he and the other firefighters must do on a regular basis.
“We have to keep up on the new protocols and train on new equipment. The city has been good to keep our equipment up-to-date, and we get certified on and practice with each new piece of equipment,” said Metsker. “We do much of our training in-house and with the Joplin Fire Department. It is important for insurance rates that we keep our ISO (insurance service organization) training up-to-date.”
As battalion chief, Metsker is responsible for running each shift for his crew of six.
“Battalion chief is a rank, and basically, I am shift commander. We work 24-hour shifts and check our equipment daily and do weekly maintenance at the firehouse and record keeping when we are not on a call.”
If you have ever driven north on Range Line, you will notice the city limits signs switch back and forth between Webb City and Joplin. As a result, Metsker and the Webb City Fire Department have an automatic aid agreement with the Joplin Fire Department. For fires in that area, including the industrial park, Webb City responds along with Joplin Firehouse #3.
Some firehouse traditions have changed over the years. At one time, a Webb City firefighter had a Dalmatian dog that was with him every shift and loved to ride in the trucks. Now, there is no dog at the firehouse. Metsker said they don’t cook at the firehouse as much as they used to either, but when he does cook, spaghetti and meatballs are his specialty.
After 40 years as a firefighter, Metsker is looking forward to retirement sometime later this year.
“It’s been a good career for me. I have no complaints, and I think it would be a good career for others, too. Most of us here had other careers before becoming firefighters. People were pipefitters, welders and truck drivers. Webb City Fire Department has been good to me.”