Firefighter served 30 years in Scandinavia
By Holly Neumann
After more than 30 years of service to the community, the Scandinavia Fire Department will honor Chief Dell Mork with an open house from 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17.
“Dell’s resignation and retirement was a heartfelt surprise to all of us on the department,” Assistant Chief Bryan Fuhssaid. “He will be dearly missed as our chief.”
According to Mork, being a firefighter is a family thing.
“My dad was a chief, my brother in-law was a chief, my brothers and even my nephews were firefighters,” he said. “I guess you could say it’s in the blood.”
He had hoped to remain on the department for 40 or more years, but due to recent health issues, decided it was time to step down.
“I have helped so many people over the years,” he said. “And although it was not an easy decision, right now I have to do what is right for me.”
He has many memories from his time in service.
“The biggest satisfaction has been helping someone who needs your help,” he said. “Answering their call and knowing you can make a difference.”
His best memory was an ice rescue from Hatch Lake last winter.
“In that moment, all your training kicks in. We knew what to do and how to do it, and we saved a life,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the equipment we had and being trained, the outcome could have been different. The final outcome was we got him out.”
Jim Aanstad, Iola and Rural Fire Department chief, said Mork was instrumental in getting the Ice Rescue Program started for both departments.
“This really paid off when we rescued people from Hatch Lake,” he said.
Mork’s hardest memories are the lives lost in a house fire years ago.
“We got a number of other people out,” he said. “But an older couple did not make it. We did everything that we could. It takes a lot to move forward from that.”
His last meeting took place on Feb. 6.
“I will help them through this transition,” Mork said. “But I am not going to keep the pager or radio. It will be too hard not to come down to the station if I hear a call. When that first calls comes in, it is not going to be easy to hear the sirens in town.”
He looks forward to spending more time with his wife Shelley, daughters, Samantha and Mariah, and three grandchildren.
“I owe a lot to them,” he said. “I will never have to leave for another meeting or emergency when they are visiting now. I have had to leave at times when they did not want me to, but they knew I enjoyed it and they supported me.”
Mork credited the community for the department it has.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” he said. “We have a lot of people on our department that make a lot of sacrifices. Without them there would be no me. Without them there would be no us.”
Fuhs and Aanstad both congratulated Mork on his years of service and wished him the best of luck in his future endeavors.
“Scandinavia Fire Department and the surrounding communities are losing a great leader,” Aanstad said. “I wish him well.”
“Dell has been a great mentor and friend,” Fuhs said. “Although we as a department will all step up to keep things moving forward, we must be thankful for the opportunity we had to serve with him.”
Fuhs will act as interim chief until elections can be held next fall.
The public is welcome to attend the open house to thank Mork for his service.
Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served.