Pictured above: Mike Billings – Picture courtesy of the City of Statesville
Statesville Fire Marshal Mike Billings doesn’t come from a long line of firefighters. But he’s wanted to be a firefighter since he was a young boy and watched Statesville firefighters put out a woods’ fire near his home on N. Lackey St.
Fifty years later, Billings is celebrating a 32-year career with the Statesville Fire Department and making plans for his retirement later this month.
Billings began working with the SFD in 1987. He loved his job, but the desire to spend more time with his young son motivated him to join the Fire Marshal’s office when asked by then Fire Marshal Ronny Thompson in 1993.
He knew right away that he was in the right job and worked to grow the fire safety classes in the schools, started the Fire and Life Safety Bowl and collaborated with local agencies to obtain a mobile fire safety house for the entire county. Billings developed a program involving specialty puppets as a way to teach preschoolers, but found that adults loved them just as much. Whether in a Sparky the Fire Dog costume or behind the stage at a puppet show, Billings was enjoying his job.
Billings was named Fire Marshal in 2009. Billings is a member of the N.C. Fire Marshal’s Association, International Association of Arson Investigators and N.C. State Fireman’s Association. He has been recognized for excellence in Fire & Life Safety Education and was named Statesville’s Firefighter of the Year in 2003.
One important event Billings will always be remembered for happened in 2012. He and then Fire Educator Donna Laney were traveling to East Elementary School for a fire education class. As they approached a bus stop near the school, a group of high school students began waving and trying to flag down their vehicle. Billings saw a girl on the ground and jumped out to assist. He discovered she was not breathing and barely had a pulse. He started CPR and revived the girl and continued to attend to her until an ambulance arrived. The girl fully recovered.
In addition to receiving the department’s Medical Lifesaving Award, Billings was also recognized as a Hometown Hero by Electricities – a membership of public power communities throughout North Carolina. Statesville is a member of Electricities.
Billings has plenty of stories and has met thousands of people during his career. He said he will spend much of his time helping his parents who still live on N. Lackey St., playing with grandchildren and trying to keep up with the friendships he has made through the years.
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