Childhood dream reality now that Schumacher is fire chief

MP fire chief appointed in September

GTNS photo by Grace King

Recently appointed Mt. Pleasant Fire Department Chief Drew Schumacher chats with firefighter Ben Calhoun at an open house at the station on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
GTNS photo by Grace King Recently appointed Mt. Pleasant Fire Department Chief Drew Schumacher chats with firefighter Ben Calhoun at an open house at the station on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Chief Drew Schumacher’s desk at the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department is mostly bare, except for a few scraps of paper and a framed black-and-white photo of him as a kindergartner staring up in awe at the chief of the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department.

“I just carried that with me,” Schumacher said as he beamed at the photo. “I don’t know what it is about the department. It burns inside of me. Until it doesn’t, I’ll still be here.”

Schumacher’s drive to become a firefighter stems from that childhood dream, caught in a picture-perfect moment.

“One day, I could be a fireman, and then the big expectation: One day, I could be fire chief,” Schumacher said. “Every little kid wants to be fire chief. I’m just blessed I get this opportunity to serve the community.”

The Mt. Pleasant City Council named Schumacher chief Sept. 27, following the retirement of former Chief Stewart Kinney. Schumacher served the department as senior captain before being appointed chief. He joined the reserve unit in 1991 and was voted on as a member in 1993.

Schumacher is also the assistant public works director, a city department he has worked with for 11 years.

As Schumacher achieves his childhood dreams, he continues to envision bigger ones for the department. The fire department meets every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. The first Wednesday of each month is spent on truck maintenance and inspections. The rest are spent in training. Schumacher wants to take one of those training nights and turn it into a chance for the department to engage in a community project.

“Whether it be setting up a stand at (Music on Main) or a can drive for the Fellowship Cup, something to give back to the community what they’ve given to us,” Schumacher said. “We’ve got top-notch stuff. That wouldn’t happen without the support of our government leaders, without the community.”

Schumacher also wants to get families involved.

Former fire department chief Kinney became a father figure to Schumacher during the 25 years the two served together.

As senior captain and now as chief, Schumacher watches other firefighters take on those roles, mentor each other and be there for one another whether they’re related or not.

He wants to extend that family feeling beyond people in the department. In Schumacher’s earlier years with the fire department, he said, he saw families of firefighters a lot more involved in the department.

Schumacher wants to recreate that familial bond by offering the firefighters’ families BBQs, game nights or the chance to go bowling together.

Firefighters with the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department say they want to see Schumacher succeed. Ben Calhoun said he believes in Schumacher’s vision and his desire to get back to a tighter-knit group of firefighters.

Firefighter Kent Lee said he hopes the transition continues to go smoothly for Schumacher. “Everyone is going to help him with it as much as possible,” he said.

Schumacher views the department as a brotherhood. These days, he finds himself walking through the conference room of the station, looking at photos of generations of firefighters and contemplating their years of service.

“They pass it on to generation to generation, family to family,” Schumacher said. “I’m dear to that. Family is everything, whether it’s blood or brotherhood.”

As the dream of a little boy continues to reach fruition, Schumacher is sometimes faced with reality checks. Growing up, it’s all fun and games.

“It’s not all fun and games. It’s hot,” Schumacher said with a boisterous laugh.

The department is taking applications from firefighters to fill Schumacher’s former position of senior captain.