Schlein retires from Monona Fire Department after 32 years

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After 32 years and seven months of service, including 13 as chief, on the Monona Volunteer Fire Department, Daryl Schlein retired this year. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

After 32 years and seven months of service on the Monona Volunteer Fire Department, Daryl Schlein retired this year. 

Of that time, 13 years were spent as chief, a role he relinquished a year and a half ago.

“It was nice to get to be a firefighter again for that time,” said Schlein, a Monona native who was encouraged to join the department by friends.

The biggest thing about being involved with the fire department, he said, is that one is always learning.

“You learn more and more over the years,” he noted. “Now, there’s more training and commitment. You need 24 hours of training each year.”

Schlein said technology and gear have been some of the biggest changes. When he first started, the city had 12 fire phones and the community relied solely on the fire whistle. Now, pagers and cell phones keep everyone connected.

The full gear firefighters have now is also quite different from the long coat and boots they once used, he added. Even getting the gear on has changed.

“Gear used to be on the trucks,” Schlein said, recalling that his was in the back of the tanker. “You would pull your boots and stuff on at the scene. Now, everything is on beforehand so you’re ready to go when you leave the station.”

Schlein said he’s been a part of a lot of different calls over the years, both good and bad. An apartment building fire and one at Art’s Way were two that stood out in his mind.

Even though he’s retired, Schlein said he’ll continue to support the Monona Fire Department.

“It’s a good department. Everyone pitches in. They’re a great bunch of guys,” he said, his voice tinged with emotion. “I’ve been proud to do it. The community is always very supportive. We have good equipment and a good council. [The experience] has been good. I wouldn’t have made it any different.”

Kurt Gerdes also retired from the Monona Volunteer Fire Department this year after 30 years of service.

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