By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – New fire inspector Dan Peterson traveled a long way to get back to where he started.
Peterson is a 2004 graduate of Ashwaubenon High School, but fighting fires has taken him all over the country.
In 2008 he graduated from Fox Valley Technical School with a fire protection degree.
After that he followed his then girlfriend and now wife to Duluth, Minnesota, where she was finishing up her degree.
He was a member of a volunteer fire department there before moving to Charleston, South Carolina and joining their department as a full-time officer.
Peterson and his wife moved back to Howard in 2014 where he started all over again as a volunteer with the Howard department before getting the call for a full-time gig with the Green Bay Fire Department.
In between there he also was a part-time firefighter in Ashwaubenon.
But once he started the nine-week training course in Green Bay, medical issues forced him to step away from the department and try his hand at a regular civilian job.
That was until Ashwaubenon had an opening for fire inspector.
“That’s what I don’t think has set in for me 100 percent, how crazy that is,” Peterson said. “You think of all the decisions that happened to get to this point, and it’s crazy.”
Being unable to serve in the field, being a fire inspector in the place he grew up in Peterson’s dream job.
“It’s the perfect timing and it’s the perfect position for me,” Peterson said. “This is one of those things that backs up the old saying ‘everything happens for a reason.’”
Peterson will be busy in Ashwaubenon. He and two part-time employees will be tasked with fire inspections for the roughly 1,700 commercial and multi-family dwellings in the village.
Some of those require two inspections a year, bringing the total number that needs to be completed close to 4,000.
“You don’t want to concentrate on the numbers but at the same time I got a job to do,” he said.
As fire inspector Peterson will check for the routine things, like exit signs and fire extinguishers, but his background also has him looking at egresses and wiring.
“My fire background is huge and i use that every single day when I inspect these buildings,” he said.
Peterson started full-time with the Ashwaubenon Public Safety Department on Jan. 1.
“It’s a real good fit,” said Eric Dunning, chief of the Ashwaubenon Public Safety Department. “He comes from the book-smart side, reading the codes and interpreting them and so forth, but also he has prior experience down in the Carolinas, when he was a career firefighter down there.”