Marshfield Fire & Rescue Chief Bob Haight Reflects on Career
Chief Robert “Bob” Haight III has always had a passion for helping people, something that ultimately led him to his career at Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department. Haight will retire as Fire Chief on March 1, leaving a 30-year involvement with the department.
In his twenties, Haight worked for a door manufacturer, metal-stamping manufacturing company, a finance lender, a construction company, and a whole variety of other employers before transitioning into Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in his early thirties.
With experience as a first responder, Haight was hired at age 32 by Marshfield Fire & Rescue in 1987 as a paid on-call firefighter. At the time, on-call firefighters were essentially volunteer, being paid only for calls. After being hired full-time in 1990, Haight worked as a firefighter/EMT before becoming one of the department’s first paramedics in 1996. Named Deputy Chief in 1998, Haight was then promoted to Chief in 2013 after the retirement of Chief Jim Schmidt.
“I think I’ve always wanted to help people,” said Haight. “I’ve always enjoyed the hands-on work.”
Though he’s always liked the fire-related side of his work, Haight’s passion has always been with EMS and the decision-making involved with high-pressure situations.
“Even though you’re working under a set of rules, there’s an autonomous part to it,” he explained. “Because you have to be able to do things quickly, it does give you some empowerment. With that type of decision-making comes a lot of responsibility.”
Haight adds that the nature of rescue work provides an appreciation for relationships.
“As hard as this job is, I think you tend to appreciate more what’s going on and the fact that you can actually have these relationships with the people you work with,” he said. “There are some things that make it really different than a normal 8-5 job.”
It is the relationships with the people that Haight will miss the most.
“My favorite parts of the job have been the people that I work with, not just in the department but also in the city,” he said, adding that though he won’t miss the 2:00AM emergency calls in -20 degree weather, he will miss the people.
“It also makes it worthwhile, being able to help the people that you come in contact with. You get to meet them at extremely bad times in their life,” he said.
Haight is proud of his work at Marshfield Fire and Rescue, and especially with his involvement with the construction of the new Fire Station and with advancing the department technologically.
“Jim spearheaded it, but I was really proud to be a part of this project,” he said. “I’m also very proud of this department becoming paramedics. The other thing that I’m proud of is helping this department really move our record keeping into the computer age. I’ve been involved not only with ours here, but also at the county level. It’s been very important.”
In his retirement, Haight will continue to teach PALS (pediatric advanced life support) and ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) at Marshfield Clinic, something that up until now he has done using vacation days.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, 27 full time, and it’s just time to move on. There’s a natural progression and with it comes new ideas and that’s really a benefit. It’s about knowing when to step aside and it’s definitely time,” he said. “I’ll have a little bit more time to spend with my wife, my boys, and my new grandson.”
Haight will also continue his involvement with the amateur radio club and has made himself available to help with the City’s disaster planning.
“I couldn’t not be doing something,” he said.
Per State Statute, beginning next month Marshfield Fire and Police Commission will begin making decisions regarding the hiring process for a new Fire Chief.