Capt. Chris Biehler of the McPherson Fire Department has given "hundreds and hundreds" of tours of the fire station to students over the past 26 years.

Capt. Chris Biehler of the McPherson Fire Department has given "hundreds and hundreds" of tours of the fire station to students over the past 26 years.

"I kind of enjoyed that during the years of my career," Biehler said. "They just like crawling on the trucks...dress their teacher up in your gear and they always think that's cool."

Biehler is retiring after 26 years with the fire department and 31 years of working for the city of McPherson. Biehler began working for the McPherson Parks Department in 1985 and joined the McPherson Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1990.

"I've got a lot of friends here. I graduated from high school here," Biehler said.

Biehler said he found working in the parks department a natural fit after studying farm and ranch management in college.

"A couple of my friends were on here at the fire department. One day they cornered me and said they needed volunteers," Biehler recalled. "They said it was fun and I'd probably have a good time doing it. And it was extra money; they paid us by the call and I had two little girls at that time."

Six years after Biehler became a volunteer, a full-time position opened up and he applied for and got the job.

"Since I've been on here, I became an [Emergency Medical Technician]. I'm a hazardous materials specialist in tank cars and rail cars," Biehler said. "They trained me all throughout my career."

Biehler explained the different aspects of the job he has loved over the years.

"I've enjoyed that it's always something different. You're always doing something, it's just never boring, really. There's always something going on," Biehler said. "Here, you have to be [trained] in everything. We do technical rescue, we do car wrecks, we do haz-mat, we do medicals, whatever was needed. We've trained in ice rescue [and] swift water."

Biehler has dealt with situations such as drownings, semi wrecks and house fires.

"Most people don't pay attention to the chemicals that come and go in this area; we have a lot of hazardous materials here, especially with the refinery and all the gas companies," Biehler said. "Any accident you have like with a rail car, we have to know how to mitigate that leak or spill."

"There's been several; numerous, numerous fires that I've worked in my career that have been fairly major," Biehler shared. "There's places you drive by still today that the images are still in your mind and they'll never go away. I've seen things that most people shouldn't ever have to see. And a lot of people don't understand that. When we go home in the morning, you can't erase those pictures from your mind. When you drive by those [places], you replay them again all over. You close your eyes and it's like you're right back there again. But we're helping people, I mean, that's why you're in this business, to help people, and if you can't, sometimes, you can't. You can't play God."

Biehler noted the McPherson Fire Department is responsible for responding to fire calls over a 100-square-mile area and provides hazardous materials protection county-wide.

"People don't realized that all this equipment that we have, it affects the [Insurance Service Office] rating," Biehler said, adding that since he started with the fire department, the rating has dropped from above a 4 to 3, which means insurance rates should have been adjusted downwards accordingly.

Currently, the McPherson Fire Department has five volunteers in addition to their full-time staff.

"You still get in on a lot of cool stuff when you're a volunteer. We try to keep them active in what we're doing," Biehler said.

Biehler is planning on working for Allied Universal Protection and spending time raising cattle and pigs.

"I grill out a lot; as a matter of fact, I grill out a lot for these guys," Biehler said.

A retirement celebration for Capt. Biehler will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the McPherson Fire Department, 312 E. Kansas in McPherson.