Posted on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 at 1:21 pm
After 22 years with the Madison Fire Department-- and many more dedicated to the fire service-- Captain Tom Reiter is hanging up his helmet.
Retirement doesn't come easy to someone who's been in love with the fire service since his childhood, nor to someone whose career touts a commitment to departments and institutions across Dane County and beyond.
By the time Reiter came to the MFD on October 9, 1993, he'd already been serving as the Fire Chief at the Shorewood Hills Fire Department. Joining the MFD's Fire Prevention Division, Reiter applied his expertise to fire inspections and code enforcement around the city of Madison.
Two years later, he joined Fire Academy Group 12 as a firefighter recruit. During his tenure as a firefighter and officer, he predominantly worked at Fire Stations 4, 5, 6, and 7.
While at Station 7, he was a member of the Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) Team, ultimately going on to oversee it as the Hazmat Coordinator and west district captain of the MFD. His oversight helped ensure that MFD Hazmat responders had the training and equipment necessary to handle some of the most difficult and unexpected situations.
Reiter also served on the MFD's Vehicle Committee, where he helped design the fire engines, ladders, squads, and rescue vehicles that serve the city of Madison to this day.
Praised as a phenomenal teacher, Reiter was assigned to train numerous recruit classes and routinely provided field training to veteran firefighters.
He was once nominated and named "Instructor Of the Year" by the Wisconsin Society of Fire Service Instructors, a statewide distinction. He continues to teach at Madison College as a Driver/Operator instructor.
His dedication to the job extends far beyond the city of Madison.
In addition to his full-time duties with the MFD, Reiter served as a captain with the Fitchburg Fire Department, an Assistant Chief at the McFarland Fire Department, and most recently as the interim Fire Chief in McFarland, a post from which he also retires effective this weekend.
His influence even crosses the national border to San Cristobol, Mexico, where he helps train fire service members and repairs their service vehicles.
But after spending decades oftentimes working the equivalent of two full-time jobs, Captain Reiter is taking the opportunity to relax a bit. Traveling remains on his "To Do" list during retirement, as well as taking more time to be with his family.
Captain Reiter made his mark and impacted lives in all corners of the city and county. Though we won't see him every day, his influence remains with the firefighters he trained and mentored throughout his distinguished career.
Tom Reiter with a few of his Group 12 classmates: Lisa Van Buskirk, Dan Williams, and Beth Risler