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Owosso Township fire chief retiring after 50 years of service

Dave Johnson joined the department in 1971, just four years after it started
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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OWOSSO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) - Decades of service are coming to a close when Owosso Township’s fire chief hangs up his helmet for the last time.

After 50 years -- that’s 18,250 days -- Owosso Township Fire Chief Dave Johnson is heading into his retirement years.

“For me it’s been a very enjoyable time to spend my time,” he said.

Johnson joined the Owosso Township Fire Department in 1971, just four years after it was created. He was promoted to captain in 1974 and assistant chief in 1979. He held that position 31 years before becoming chief in 2010.

“In the early years, we were doing car washes, raffles, spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts to raise money,” Johnson said. “We bought Jaws of Life. We were the first fire department in the county to have Jaws of Life.”

But with his job comes a tremendous undertaking and responsibility -- saving lives, fighting fires, putting his own life at risk for others. Johnson doesn’t regret any of it one bit.

“I was with the Lebowski Center, the Gettleman Building that burned years ago, where one of the city firemen was killed on a wall collapse. I had some of my guys working with him that were injured by falling bricks,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s last day with the department was Wednesday. Battalion Chief Mike Ardelean is taking over the fire chief position with 37 years of experience on the department.

He plans to continue focusing on fire prevention as chief.

“The board has just passed some fire ordinances and codes for our area, so we plan on doing some local work with fire prevention and local businesses and keeping the public safe,” Ardelean said.

Johnson plans to spend his retirement years with his wife up north at their cabin.

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