NEWBERRY — About three years ago Michael Parker, 41, joined the City of Newberry Fire Department, and recently he was promoted from firefighter to engineer.
“Originally, it was a two step process to get promoted. You had to have the time in, which was a three year minimum and you also had to have a series of classes that were completed above and beyond the firefighter’s level. When both of these were met, you could move to the engineer’s spot,” Parker said. “We’ve now changed a little bit, and are allowing firefighters that progress a little bit more rapidly, that complete their classes and show the ability to be an engineer.”
Since Parker progressed a little bit more rapidly, he was promoted three months quicker. Now that he is an engineer, Parker will continue doing a lot of what he was already doing with the fire department.
According to Chief Keith Minick, they expose their firefighters to what an engineer would do early on.
“For example, some that come in have experience with driving a truck, knowing how to do pump operations. He (Parker) is also a Silverstreet volunteer firefighter, so if they have experience, even as a firefighter, they may drive that truck, just not have an engineer grade,” Minick said. “So what we have done is if we have a firefighter that comes in, gets the classes they need, they do not have to wait three years to get that engineer title. If they meet the intent of firefighter, and they have excelled and started taking classes as an engineer, their ability to move to an engineer is quicker.”
Parker said for him, it is a title of what he has already been doing.
Parker started off as a volunteer five years ago, with Silverstreet and later with the City of Newberry.
“I live almost across the street from the fire department in Silverstreet, and I kept hearing the whistle go off. Every time the whistle went off I kept seeing the same man, by himself, go over and get a truck and go off down the road,” he said. “I talked to that man one day, and I asked why are you doing this by yourself, and he said ‘I’m the only one here to take the call.’ and I said, ‘I might be able to help you out since I’m here quite often during the day.’ That is how it started,” Parker said.
Parker took some of his classes at the City of Newberry Fire Department, which got him exposed to the city. Not long after that, Gene Shealy became the recruitment and retention officer, which opened up a spot at the city for employment. That is when Parker was hired at the city.
During his time as a firefighter, Parker said he enjoyed getting out and being with people, and being able to do things with them, like with the Kids Fun Day and the Goodfellow Baskets.
“Congratulations to Michael Parker on his recent promotion from firefighter to engineer. It is a pleasure to have him on our team serving the City of Newberry. He is always looking to train and better himself as well as the department and county fire service. He serves as a volunteer in Silverstreet and was president of the Newberry County Firefighter’s Association in 2017,” Minick said. “We look forward to his many years of service and dedication to our citizens and those who travel through our community.”
Parker was born in Charlotte, N.C. and graduated from South Point High School in Belmont, N.C. in 1994. After graduating from high school he joined the Army. He said he joined because of family tradition, he has had uncles and grandparents in the Army.
“My time in the military has definitely helped me here,” he said.
Parker retired from the Army after 11 years, as an E6 Staff Sergeant. Parker moved to Silverstreet after meeting his future wife, Lori. Parker has three children, daughter Taylor Parker, 22, step-son Ryan Brown, 13, and Thomas Jackson Parker, three.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.