Retired firefighters find way to help by forming volunteer fire corp

NOW: Retired firefighters find way to help by forming volunteer fire corp

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Two retired firefighters in Oconomowoc decided they're not ready to hang their hats just yet. So they're back at the firehouse, not fighting fires, but helping out in a different way.

Bob Leonard was diagnosed with MS in 2012, a disease that forced the former Dousman Assistant Fire Chief into retirement just a few years later.

"I missed helping people, I couldn't do that anymore," Leonard said.

After more than 40 years on the job, he had a hard time letting go.

"I missed the fire department, I missed the guys, missed the girls, missed working at the fire department," Leonard said.

"I just missed the atmosphere, after 42 years, you don't purge it from your system," Retired Oconomowoc Fire Department Lieutenant Mike Laventure said. 

Leonard's fellow former firefighter, Mike Laventure, was in the same boat.

"Got the best of me probably after a month or two after retiring. Can't hang it up one day and don't think about it anymore," Laventure said.

Inspired by a volunteer fire corp he had heard about in Arizona, Leonard asked Western Lakes Fire Chief Brad Bown if there was a need for their expertise on a volunteer basis.

"It's a great way to try and transition folks that can't do EMS or firefight any longer but still want to be engaged," said Western Lakes Fire District Chief Brad Bowen.

So the two have started putting in a few hours a week at the firehouse, doing small maintenance tasks. 

"This is a way that I've helped people, or we put the smoke detectors in, change the battery in someone's smoke detector."

"We'd like to see more people get involved, more retired people just helping out the community. That's what we enjoy doing, that's what we've done for forty plus years."

Retired public safety professionals who want to get involved can reach out to Fire Chief Brad Bowen at the Western Lakes Fire District.

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