Longtime Aberdeen Fire Marshal retires after 29 years


ABERDEEN (AP) – After 29 years with the Aberdeen Fire & Rescue, Michael Thompson is ready for retirement.

As the Aberdeen fire marshal, Thompson investigates fires, deals with the handling of hazardous materials and administration of burn permits for the city of Aberdeen.

Thompson's last day was April 26, where he said the thing he'll miss most is the big family he'll leave behind at the fire department, the Aberdeen American News reported.

Thompson worked with up to 49 others at Aberdeen Fire & Rescue's three fire stations.

"Usually when guys retire, they always say they'll come visit, but they rarely do. So I'm going to try to make sure to come back and visit these guys," Thompson said during his farewell celebration.

Thompson is looking forward to the time off and uninterrupted nights of sleep.

Of all the fire calls that stood out in his memory the most, Thompson recalled an incident in the early morning hours of March 17, 1998, when three fires broke out in town — at a warehouse on Railroad Avenue Southeast, a storage building on North Penn Street and an unoccupied duplex on South Rock Street. Authorities concluded that Richard Henke, who owned all three properties, set the fires.

The next day, Thompson said, Henke was found dead. Henke was a half-mile east of the Bath corner in his car. Authorities determined he died of a self- inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

A Jamestown, N.D., native, Thompson has a bachelor's degree in engineering technology/fire protection and safety from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. He worked as a sprinkler designer in private industry and in loss prevention for an insurance company before becoming Aberdeen's fire marshal.

Battalion Chief Joel Weig said Thompson will be missed.

Weig noted Thompson's plethora of knowledge, saying that if he didn't know the answer to a question it wouldn't be long before he'd get back to you with an answer.

Chad Nilson will take over the job as fire marshal May 13. He currently works for the city of Aberdeen as a building inspector.

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