By Kyle Siegel
Sedalia Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld, in his own words, is a “homegrown product.” Ditzfeld was born in Sedalia and he has spent his whole life in this town. A large portion of it has been spent as the Sedalia Fire Department Chief.
As a child, Ditzfeld attended Washington Elementary School, before attending and graduating from Smith-Cotton.
After attending S-C, Ditzfeld began college by attending State Fair Community College, where he graduated in 1973 with an associate’s degree in Business Management.
During high school and college, Ditzfeld followed along side his father’s career path.
“At the time, I was following in my father’s footsteps. He was a long-time employee at McLaughlin’s Furniture. I worked there through my high school and college years.
“At the age of 20, I worked with a lady whose husband worked here at the fire department,” Ditzfeld said.
Ditzfeld was asked what attracted him to the fire department job.
“I got interested and attracted by the excitement of the job, and particularly the hours they worked,” Ditzfeld explained.
He added, “I applied and was eventually hired shortly before my 21st birthday in 1974. I have been here ever since.”
Ditzfeld worked for the fire department for three years before being promoted to the rank of driver.
“I drove fire trucks for ten years after that,” Ditzfeld said.
Ditzfeld was asked when the fire chief position became a possibility.
“The opportunity presented itself to apply for the chief’s position. That was in 1986. That was after the retirement of C.W. Red Gordy. It was in May of 1986,” Ditzfeld said.
Chief Ditzfeld was asked if he had thought being the fire chief would last as long as it has.
“At the time, the fire department had 22 years of eligibility before I could have retired. I had nine years left before I could have retired.
“The way it worked out, I have been fortunate to serve in this capacity for 26 years,” he said.
Ditzfeld was asked if has seen any changes to the way the department operates over the years.
“Probably one of the biggest changes that we have seen, this generation doesn’t usually have plans on staying with one employer for their career.
“Being able to adjust management style for this generation has been challenging. We feel like we have accomplished our reputation of getting good people for the job,” Ditzfeld said.
He added, “We have elevated our requirements just to apply here.”
On a personal note, Ditzfeld and his wife Carol have been married for 22 years.
“I am the father of four children, two of my own and two step-children. I have five grandchildren, all are girls except for one boy,” Ditzfeld said with a smile.
He added, “My mother is still alive and she resides here in Sedalia.”
Ditzfeld was asked what activities, outside of the department, he enjoys participating in.
“Fishing is probably my biggest passion. Back in our early days, we bought a piece of property on Truman lake. When our kids were young, we would spend almost every weekend down there.
“I have always been an avid crappie fisherman. I think a lot of people are dependent for me to keep them in crappie,” Ditzfeld joked.
He added, “Other than that, spending time with my family is something I enjoy doing.”