On Friday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m., Battalion Chief Mike Drury will walk out the door of the Merrill Fire Station for the last time after a 32 year career with the City of Merrill. Drury started his career with the City of Merrill as a firefighter/EMT in March of 1986. To celebrate BC Drury’s years of service to the community, the Merrill Fire Department will be conducting a Walk-out Ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday at the Fire Station, 110 Pier St., Merrill.
In a letter dated Nov. 6, Drury announced his retirement. “I have experienced the honor and privilege of serving the citizens of Merrill and the surrounding area.” He continued, “I have always felt truly blessed with my calling to be a professional firefighter, as I believe it is one of the most admirable and respectable professions there is. However, that pride runs even deeper when coupled with the fact that I further define myself a ‘Merrill’ Professional Firefighter.”
B/C Drury has contributed in many ways to the citizens of Merrill and the State of Wisconsin holding various roles and responsibilities.
•MFD Fire Inspection Division Head 2008-2013
•MFD Administrative/Training 2013-2017
•Merrill FF Charities Tree of Hope Co-Chair 1995-2017
•Northcentral Technical College (NTC) Fire Instructor
•WI State Fire Department Safety and Health Council, committee member 2000-2001
•WI State Deferred Compensation Board 2002-2010
•MDA involvement award for 25 years of dedication
•Member of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
•Local 847 Merrill Firefighter
•Central WI Firefighters Association
•Professional Fire Fighters of WI (PFFW)
Several incidents over Drury’s career in Merrill stick out in his memory.
“I was the Fire Department Incident Commander the night of the Tornado in Merrill,” he said. “This incident will be with me for the rest of my life. The destruction is hard to describe and the resources that were needed to mitigate this incident was incredible. But the thing I will remember most is how this community rallied behind people and worked together to clean up and get people’s lives and businesses back together.”
Another memorable incident was a semi truck rollover on Hwy. 51.
“I was Incident Commander, when we pulled up there were compressed bottles scattered all over the road, some were leaking and the driver was pinned in the cab. We had to get him out and then call the Haz Mat team from Wausau FD. The FD had Hwy. 51 shut down in both directions until it was cleaned up.”
Then there was the Kamikaze Bar fire on West Main Street.
“The bar had multiple apartments above it and was attached on both sides by other buildings,” Drury remembers. “This fire stated in the attached garage and quickly ran up the walls of this old balloon frame construction. We were able to contain this fire to this building with very little damage to any other property.”
And he’s helped deliver three babies in his career.
“One was delivered on the living room floor, one was delivered on our ambulance cot in the ambulance entrance of the hospital, and the third was delivered in the hallway of a home. It is an incredible feeling knowing you were part of bringing a small human being into this world.”
During his 32 years of service to the fire department Drury has witnessed and been a part of many changes within Merrill Fire Department and the community of Merrill. He has served under six mayors, two city administrators, five fire chiefs and with 58 different firefighters. When asked what his plans for the future were, Mike replied, he and his wife Sheila are looking forward to enjoying life to its fullest by spending more time with their children and grandchild.
“I was told a long time ago that ‘you get out of things what you put into them’,” Mike added. “Over my 32 years I have poured my heart and soul into my profession. Now it’s time to spend more time with family!”
“The fire department is highly regarded among our residents, businesses and neighboring communities thanks to Battalion Chief Drury’s steadfast leadership,” Chief Savone said. “We wish him the best of luck in retirement. Mike is a respected officer within the Fire Department and has given a lot to this community through his career and personal time while helping others,” said Savone. “He will be truly missed.”