The final call [UPDATED]Published 11:11am Monday, November 19, 2012 Updated 11:11am Monday, November 19, 2012
He has served with 172 different firefighters, responded to more than 4,000 fires, attended about 800 drills and on Wednesday, assistant chief Tom Arneson will serve his last day with the Fergus Falls Fire Department.
“I will miss fire fighting, especially when things go well and we are able to help and protect property and citizens of Fergus Falls,” Arneson said.
He started 40 years ago in 1972, and Arneson said all of the trucks have been replaced two or three times since then.
“The equipment and techniques have changed significantly, but the goal of protecting property and citizens has not,” he said.
Arneson said he will miss the camaraderie and working with fellow firefighters the most.
“There’s a bond and brotherhood amongst firefighters that words can’t describe. You have to feel it,” he said. “I will miss that.”
There are three fires Arneson said he will remember the most. He responded to two fires in which fire fighters rescued victims who otherwise would not have survived.
“It’s a feel-good like you can’t imagine,” he said. “You’re so happy for the family and the survivor. By the same token, you’re so proud of the fire department.”
The third moment Arneson will never forget was the fire at the UBC Building Center in 1997.
“From a visual perspective, that’s the fire I remember the most,” he said. “We had mutual aid from Underwood and Dalton, and they thought the whole town was on fire.”
Fire fighting has been a family tradition for Arneson. His father was a fire fighter for 31 years, and Arneson had the opportunity to serve with his son for two years.
“It was really special to be able to share that experience with my son,” he said.
Even from a young age Arneson said he always wanted to be a firefighter.
“I can’t ever say this isn’t what I didn’t want to do,” he said. “There are times when you respond when it’s a 20 below zero night call, and you wonder if you still want to do this but only briefly.”
Arneson said he is extremely grateful for two things. He has never been injured in the line of duty, and no firefighters have suffered a serious injury while he has been on the department.
For the last 20 years, Arneson has been president of the Fire Department, and he conducted his last meeting Monday. His official last day of service will be Wednesday, Nov. 21, and he said he looks forward to enjoying much of his retirement time in Arizona.
A reception celebrating Arneson’s 40 years of service will be held from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Monday in the City Hall lobby.