Lyle Haberstroh said it’s time to let the young guys take over, after 35 years ago he has retired from the Hettinger Fire Department.
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
Lyle Haberstroh said it’s time to let the young guys take over, after 35 years ago he has retired from the Hettinger Fire Department. The deparment’s bylaws require volunteers to step down after they turn 60, and after 2016 Haberstroh—originally from Mott—had accrued the 35 years, so it was a good time to move on.
“I got to that point now,” he said. “And I was waiting until I got my 35 years in now it’s time to let the young guys take over.”
Haberstroh said he didn’t get into volunteering by following in anyone’s footsteps, like a father, uncle, or older brother. He just thought it was a good thing to do.
“When you live in a small town, you kind of feel like you’re a part of the community when you do something like that,” he said. “If we don’t do it, who’s going to do it…when they dial 911, somebody better show up.”
He has run Lyle’s Body Shop since 1985, and he said it was convenient for him to volunteer because he always worked and lived in town, so his services were always accessible in the event of a fire or accident.
“For me it worked out well,” Haberstroh said.
He really enjoyed the camaraderie the department offers their volunteers, comparing it to a fraternal organization.
“It’s kind of a brotherhood,” he said. “You kind of trust each other, because you have kind of have each other’s back when you’re in that situation you have to work together as a team.”
Some of the hardest parts of the job come as a result of such a close-knit community—you know most of the people you end up helping.
“You live here, you know everybody, you go home and you can’t just turn it off,” he said. “That’s the part the toughest part.”
Haberstroh told the Record that he would recommend others to volunteer, and said that the skills you gain from your time in the department can be transferable to other parts of your life, like teamwork.
“There’s some training that goes into it, but it’s worthwhile,” he said. “And it’s beneficial to yourself to learn.”
Though he is done running into burning buildings, and going on emergency calls to help during accidents, Haberstroh will continue to be a part of the efforts. He was fire chief when the fire district was initially organized in the early 90s, and was on the original board. He still serves on the board and said for now he’ll still give his time to the district.