By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
After more than 41 years of service with the St. Joseph fire department, Chief Mike Dalsing will officially retire on June 10.
Dalsing started with the department on December 10, 1979 before taking over as chief in September 2008.
One thing has remained constant for Dalsing since the beginning - his job at the fire department never felt like work.
"I was excited to come to work when I was a young firefighter," Dalsing said. "Actually, it didn't change a lot as I got older. Now, there were a few more headaches as I got higher in rank, but I like coming to work every day. It's a great job and we got to help people."
Dalsing was designated as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) by the Commission on Professional Credentialing in 2015 and was also an active member of International Association of Fire Chiefs, Missouri Fire Chiefs and the Kansas City area Heart of America Fire Chiefs.
Dalsing also served on the boards of the Safety and Health Council, United Way and St. Joseph Youth Soccer Association.
During his years of service, Dalsing was instrumental in pushing for first responders on the department and in teaching several of the classes. He was certified as a paramedic throughout most of his career.
As fire chief, he pushed for enhanced medical response by requiring EMT licenses. He oversaw the completion of new fire stations 9, 11 and 12, as well as the groundbreaking for the new station 8 in mid-April.
Revamping the fire stations and upgrading the department's equipment are the achievements Dalsing is most proud of as he looks back.
"We were riding the back of the trucks (when I first started)," he said. "Our equipment was pretty old, and we've been able to update stuff. We've actually had a lot of the Kanas City fire departments come up here and look at some of our stations and the ways we're doing stuff.
"It kind of makes you feel good that we're kind of on the cutting edge rather than the catching up edge."
Dalsing served 23 years in the Missouri Air National Guard with the last eight years as chief of the deployable fire department.
Kenny Cordonnier, a 39-year member of the fire department, will serve as the interim fire chief until a full-time replacement is found.
Cordonnier has spent the last nine years as Chief of Fire Prevention and has served as backup to Chief Dalsing.
"Kenny is the kind of guy, if he walks into a room, he doesn't tell you 'this is wrong' and then walk out," Dalsing explained. "He says, 'This is what's wrong, this is why you need to fix it and here's some options.' When you work with people like that, it makes things so much smoother.
"He's actually been actively involved in the building of the last two fire stations. He'll keep the station 8 project on track and I think he'll do fine."
A reception for Dalsing will be announced at a later date. While retirement is a relaxing change of pace for many, firefighting for people like Dalsing and Cordonnier is more than just a job.
"It was kind of a lifestyle for a lot of us," said Dalsing.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.