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‘Dad taught me to help others in their time of need’

Michael Seigler
1:33 read

I have my dad to thank for my career as a firefighter. For as long as I can remember, I have always been around fire stations and fire trucks.

SEIGLER_MICHAEL_BARNEYPhoto_5.jpgMy dad, Barney Seigler, perhaps got his desire to become a firefighter as well when he was just a young boy. His dad worked with the state forestry service as a tractor operator on forest fires in South Carolina’s Low Country. Dad has told me of fires that he would go to with grandpa. Dad would help combat wildfires by setting backfires (attempts to halt a wildfire by burning fuel in the fire’s path) while grandpa was cutting fire breaks (natural or constructed barriers used to stop or check fires that may occur).Mike_Seigler_and_Dad.jpg

My parents eventually moved to the Upstate after getting married. My dad joined the New Prospect Fire Department as a volunteer. About that time, I came along. Although I have no memories of that time, there are pictures of me on firetrucks way back then. Dad’s full-time job was with the S.C. National Guard. We moved to Inman and this is where my memories of being in the fire service family start.

Dad joined as a volunteer in the town fire department. He would eventually become chief. In the late 1970s, he and other members left the town fire department to establish the Inman Community Fire District, outside town limits. It was referred to as “no man’s land.” No one covered this area for fire protection. Dad was elected as the chief of this department when it began operation in October of 1980. I officially joined the department as a junior firefighter at age 14. When I turned 18 I became a volunteer firefighter.

I credit my dad for teaching me many things. He stressed always giving your best at whatever you are doing. He also talked about doing the job right the first time. Dad was a believer in taking care of his people. He always tried to make the firefighter feel appreciated.

He had that same approach whenever arriving at a scene, too.

One day dad told me, “Remember it doesn’t matter if it’s a big expensive house on the lake, or the single-wide trailer back in the woods, whatever that person owns is within the walls of that house, treat it as if it was yours.”

Dad taught me to help others in their time of need. I made the decision to somewhat follow in his footsteps. Now, I have the coolest job in the world. My career has afforded me many opportunities, but on any given day, I can help someone in their time of need. Thanks, dad for making me the person I am today.     

Mike Seigler is a captain in the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District Fire Department.