Alhambra Fire Department chief reflects on 30 years wearing the white hat
After leading the department for 30 years, Alhambra Fire Chief Allan Daiber has stepped down.
Daiber resigned as chief May 1 and handed the reins over to Gary Boda, who has been Daiber’s assistant chief almost since day one.
In total, Daiber has been with the fire department for 40 years. In that time, a lot has changed, he said.
“We started out with rubber coats and helmets. We didn’t have that full protective gear,” Daiber said. “That’s all they had back then. Way back then you didn’t go into the houses. You fought the fires from the outside, unless somebody was trapped in there.”
But, over the years, with advances in equipment and training procedures and greater availability of mutual aid, volunteers departments, like Alhambra’s, are able to do more. However, learning new technology is also demanding.
“I’m no computer man,” Daiber said. “These other guys have more knowledge with the new computer system. It’s time for the younger guys to take hold.”
Daiber said that one of the largest fires he has seen was 10 years ago at Sievers Equipment Co. in Hamel. Alhambra was one of many local departments to respond to the huge blaze that destroyed the farm equipment dealership, which has since be rebuilt.
Daiber also recalled a May 2014 fire at the Mills Apple Farm in rural Marine, where a barn that held the cider mill for the farm was destroyed.
Some of Daiber’s fondest memories as chief include assisting with Alhambra Homecoming festivities and engaging with other firefighters. He said he enjoys sharing ideas with colleagues, because their field is ever changing.
“I’m still learning,” Daiber said. “Every year is something new, changing, improving, which is good. It helps to protect the firefighters and the people in the community.”
But his favorite part of the job was helping the community.
“I just enjoy helping people out when an emergency comes in,” Daiber said. “It’s just something in me. I like helping people. If something happens, I’m going be there to help them and try to do my best.”
Daiber is one of five fire chiefs the department has had in the last 50 years. Others on the list include Bob Klaustermeyer, Olin Espenscheid, Danny Seitz and Glen Riepshoff. He’s grateful for the trust the community placed in him for so long.
“I would like to thank them for letting me be in control that many years,” Daiber said.
While Daiber will no longer wear the white hat, he will not be hanging up his helmet for good. He plans to continue to serve as a rank-and-file firefighter. Every volunteer is needed, he said.
“I’m still going to stay on at the fire department and help the community out, until I guess, I can’t go anymore,” Daiber said. “Unless we get more guys on the department, so I can step down.”
Currently, the fire department has 31 people on its roster. A full roster is 40.
Any interested volunteer can ask any firefighter or go to a Monday night meeting and fill out the paper work. All training is paid for, as is the equipment.
Daiber he hopes that stepping down as chief may give him more personal time.
“I like to fish and hunt,” Daiber said. “Last year, I never got a hook in the water. Now, I may have a little bit more time for that.”
Alhambra correspondent Freddie Riepshoff contributed to this story.