INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Michael Spalding has been fighting fires in Indianapolis longer than some of his co-workers have been alive.
"It's a wonderful job, it's an exciting job, and it's a job that truly grows on you," he said.
Spalding was one of the firefighters who were injured during the Indianapolis Athletic Club fire in 1992. He said he's lived through and seen a lot. But after 35 years, Spalding is ready to call it a career.
"I'm kind of looking forward to it, but I'm going to miss it tremendously," he said. "I'll miss it a lot."
Spalding is one of at least 31 men and women scheduled to retire this year from the Indianapolis Fire Department. By the end of the year, 74 firefighters will have retired since 2011, taking with them more than two-thousand years of collective experience.
Assistant Chief Ernest Malone said filling their boots isn't easy.
"I've actually worked with Mike for several years and I owe a lot of what I've been able to do to him," said Malone.
While you can't replace the experience, Malone said the department will get a strong start this year.
The department has been approved for a federal grant to hire 30 new firefighters. Malone said their existing budget allows them to bring on five more, and so this month, IFD will begin training its first new recruit class in five years.
"It's huge for our department. It's an influx of new talent," he said, adding that the new recruits will have time to spend with the senior firefighters before those men and women retire. "(It will) let them draw on some of that experience before (the senior firefighters) actually retire and leave our organization," said Malone.
Spalding says, in this business, you learn on the job.
"When they go to the academy, they learn the practical aspect or the theoretical aspects of firefighting," said Spalding. "And then when they come into the company, that's when they learn the practical side of it … you feel an obligation to pass that along to younger generations so they'll learn the same things we've been taught."
Spalding calls it a career like no other.
"I think everybody yearns to do something that's worthwhile," he said. "This job gives that over and over and over again. Sometimes it's heartbreaking, but you have so many opportunities to do good things and I think that's something that gets in your blood and it's like no other job in the world."
Concerns from residents could prompt Columbus public safety officials to keep a closer watch on parts of the city.
Beans, once called the poor man's meat, are cheap! In fact, there is absolutely nothing in the grocery store that is a bigger bang-for-the-buck than beans, peas and lentils.
Snow that moved through Central Indiana this week has wrapped up, leaving some areas with more than 10 inches of snow.