Press times staff
GREEN BAY – Over the last couple of months, the Green Bay Metro Fire Department (GBMFD) has said goodbye to four members of its squad – each with more than two decades of service.
Combined, these firefighters – Mark Hella, Mike “Bear” Ireland, Drew Spielman and Brian Turk – have more than 100 years of experience.
Captain Mark Hella
Hella walked out of Station 8, located in the Village of Allouez, for the last time July 4, after serving with the GBMFD for 29 years.
Prior to being hired on at the GBMFD, Hella worked for the Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department for two years.
He started with Green Bay in 1993 as an EMT-paramedic – working at various stations throughout his career and climbing from the rank of private to captain.
Hella was with one of the original crews at Station 8, following the merger of Allouez and Green Bay departments.
Throughout his career, he said he has had many interesting calls, but some that stick out include the Younkers mall fire, the Licht Warehouse fire and the Hilltop Apartment Fire.
Hella said he will miss the camaraderie of the department and being able to help the people of the community on their worst day.
With retirement, he said he is looking forward to going fishing, spending time with family and being up north.
Mike ‘Bear’ Ireland
Lieutenant Mike “Bear” Ireland, of the Fire Marshal’s Office, officially ended his 26-year career July 3.
Ireland started his firefighting career in 1982, as a junior firefighter and then a volunteer for his hometown fire department – following in his father’s footsteps.
He graduated from University of Cincinnati with an associate degree in fire service technology.
Before coming to Green Bay, he served as a member of the Breitung Township Fire Department in Michigan for 10 years.
Ireland started with the GBMFD as an EMT-basic in March of 1996.
He worked at various stations throughout his career, climbing through the ranks from private to engineer and then fire marshal, a position he’s held for the last five years with duties that include fire inspections, code enforcement and fire investigations.
Ireland said now that he’s retired, he looks forward to actually getting to spend holidays with family, traveling, and seeing where the next part of life takes him.
Battalion Chief Drew Spielman
Battalion Chief Drew Spielman called it a career June 18, following 23 years of firefighting service.
Spielman began his career with GBMFD as an EMT-basic in April 1999, after obtaining an associate degree in fire protection from Fox Valley Technical College.
He comes from a public service family – with both his grandfather and father serving as firefighters.
Over the years, Spielman climbed his way through the ranks from private to engineer and finally battalion chief in 2014 – spending much of his career in Green Bay’s downtown stations, No. 1 and 2.
As battalion chief, he was in charge of designing and overseeing the building and maintenance of the engines, ladders, ambulances and any other vehicles in the department.
Spielman has also been a member of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department in southern Brown County.
He said one of the most interesting calls he was involved with over the years was when a cattle truck rolled over, with trapped and escaped cows – something the department hadn’t responded to before.
Spielman mitigated the situation on the fly and helped the department develop a policy in case it would happen again.
Though he is retiring from the GBMFD, his career in public service isn’t over.
Spielman was named the new fire chief of the Hudson Fire Department, overseeing a department serving 14,000 citizens.
Captain Brian Turk
Captain Brian Turk walked out the doors of Station 5 for the last time May 28, endcapping a 28-year firefighting career.
Prior to coming to Green Bay fire, he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1987 to 1991.
Turk started with the GBMFD as an EMT-basic in 1994, before returning to school to become an EMT-paramedic.
Throughout his career, he worked at various stations, climbing from the rank of private to captain.
Turk also served on the department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team.
Some of the calls he said have stuck out over the years include a serious car crash on Western Avenue, helping to deliver a baby in the ambulance bay of Bellin Hospital, the Leicht’s Dock Fire, the Huth Street Apartments garage fire and being lowered by his ankles into a manhole to retrieve car keys.
Turk said he will miss the camaraderie of the department and being able to help people in the way firefighters and paramedics do.
He said he won’t, however, miss the report writing or sleepless nights.
As far as what retirement will look like, Turk said he is looking forward to continuing to teach paramedics at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and volunteering more.
2022 summer GBMFD promotions
As four walked out of their stations for the last time, others within GBMFD received promotions.
Recent promotions include:
Chad Bronkhorst – promoted from captain to battalion chief.
Lieutenants Jeff Jackovich and Dan Chatham have been promoted to captain.
Engineers Tyler Gerrits and Luke Semrau received promotions to lieutenant.
Engineer Chad Pfeffer and Firefighter Ben Zemple have been promoted to lieutenant within the Fire Marshal’s Office.
Firefighters John Landwehr, Zach Wege and Tom Lemens were promoted to engineer.