Themes for March… Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Read Across American Day, Easter, spring begins, St. Patrick’s Day, caterpillars, butterflies, and ladybugs start showing up, but one of the most important themes is Women’s History Month. I thank all the women of the Missouri Fire Service! We have approximately 1,200 women throughout the Missouri fire service, and I am proud of each of them. Their ranks include fire chiefs, assistant chiefs, company officers, safety officers, training officers, and standard firefighters. I am excited as I crisscross our state and meet our female firefighters. We have some outstanding opportunities coming down the road.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the #1 woman in my life, my mother Juanita Ruth Bean, the woman among women! The woman who stayed in love with my dad for 68 years, raised five of us kids, worked every day for over twenty years as a cook. Mom would get up and be gone by 7:00 a.m., return home and have supper ready. Then she washed, cleaned, and helped with homework and other duties as assigned. She is and has always been a Godly woman, loving, encouraging, caring, listening, supporting, and appreciating others. I feel, if you look in the dictionary under women, my mother’s name will be there. Thank you mom for being a good woman for 87 years. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers, she has Alzheimer’s and can’t function like she once did, but she still can recognize her family and say, “I love you,” and that is worth all the money in the world. I love you Mom!
I would also like to take the time and acknowledge three more women. Soon they will be exiting the thirteenth floor after a combined 85 years of service to the state and the Division of Fire Safety. Fiscal and Administrative Manager Sherry Hoelscher, Personnel Analyst Donna Moore and Deputy Chief of Training and Certification Becky Trapani. These three women have built their legacy across the Missouri fire service with their characteristics of caring, dedication, commitment, kindness, knowledge, sweetness, joy, hardworking, understanding, skilled, forgiving, humble, long-suffering, loyalty, and intelligence. Sherry and Donna began their employment the same year and are now ending their careers simultaneously. They have witnessed a multitude of changes over their careers. Things like new firefighter laws enacted, division programs added, good and lean budget years, six different fire marshal office locations, six state fire marshals and numerous other items. Sherry and Donna have both demonstrated an outstanding work ethic over each of their 32 years of service. Their fingerprints will be on the Division of Fire Safety for many years to come.
Becky’s reputation and work ethic throughout her 20 years of service in the training and certification division have been top shelf. Becky has a friendly attitude and a wiliness to listen. She keeps an open mind and will try to find solutions to every situation. After becoming deputy chief in 2017, she has been extremely busy. On her watch, her team has been able to get reaccredited with IFSAC/PRO-BOARD for another five years. They have maintained 27 levels of state certifications, been awarded five AFG grants, and implemented a new record/learning management system and computer-based testing for all of our firefighters, just to name a few of her accomplishments. I, along with the Division of Fire Safety family will miss these ladies on the thirteenth floor. These three ladies truly represent why we celebrate Women’s History Month! Good luck, and I wish you each a blessed and healthy retirement. We will be celebrating their retirement on March 31st at 1:00 p.m. Anyone that would like to join us you are welcome to attend.
In closing, everyone is invited to attend the 2022 Firefighters Day at the Capitol. On Tuesday, April 5th, we will begin the day with a legislative update beginning at 10:00 a.m. Then move to the Capitol rotunda to begin the 50th-anniversary ceremony. We ask any color guards, pipes/drums to come and participate in the ceremony. Previous state fire marshals and other fire safety members will be in attendance. Make history with us! It is an honor to serve as your State Fire Marshal. On February 13th, I begin my fifth year and look forward to serving alongside each of you. May God continue to protect and keep you.