Source: Sherman Publications

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Firefighter retires after 37 years

by Phil Custodio

March 07, 2012

Mike Fahrner recently retired after 37 years with the Independence Township Fire Department. Photo by Phil Custodio
Capt. Mike Fahrner saw major changes in firefighting in his 37 years of service on the Independence Township Fire Department, but one thing that never changed was strong community support.

"When we'd go to the people for something, they always supported us," said Fahrner, who retired last month. "I'm entirely grateful they're behind us."

He joined the department as a junior firefighter on his 16th birthday, and became a volunteer firefighter after he graduated from Clarkston High School in 1975.

"My dad was in this department," he said. "I joined right out of high school they were hiring. It's been good. I enjoyed it, helping people, camaraderie with people I work with. It's been my second family."

He joined the department as an emergency medical technician in 1977.

"We were just starting the emergency medical service," he said. "We provided oxygen, bandages, basic life support. We only had one advanced paramedic."

He joined with Steve Ronk the Dec. 29, 1977 edition of The Clarkston News features the two men.

Steve's father Frank Ronk was chief when they joined. Now, Steve Ronk is the fire department's chief.

"They're different, but both good leaders for the department," Fahrner said.

As he retires, he sees fewer fires due to more fire prevention education, and fewer serious accidents on I-75, though they are still frequent.

"The biggest change on the highway was the guardrail there aren't as many cross over head-ons now," he said. "We used to have them multiple times each year."

He lives in Independence Township with his wife, Rene, and their two daughters.