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South Bend Fire Captain retires after 30+ years of service

South Bend Fire Captain, Joe Wagner, retires after 31 years of service.
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 11:40 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - 31-year department veteran, Joe Wagner, has retired.

“It makes me proud. I am so proud that my dad has been such a hero and has achieved so much,” said Nicole Hagen, Joe Wagner’s daughter.

Wagner was sworn into the department on January 9th, 1991, and spent the first six years of his career assigned to 2′s, Central, and 9′s.

In 1997, Wagner was promoted to Driver Operator and worked his way to becoming an instructor in the department’s Training Bureau.

“[Wagner] Always had a positive outlook. I think even when things, where you could probably have a bad attitude, but he always seemed to, kind of, make fun out of it,” said Gerard Ellis, the Assistant Chief at Station 8.

In 2012, Wagner was promoted to Captain, and firefighters at Station 8 say that he has been an asset to the department, always willing to share his vast knowledge of fire service.

“This job, you know, you’re kind of behind the scenes a lot, but it’s pretty rewarding. It’s a brotherhood, sisterhood, whatever you want to, but we uh, we bond together pretty good. We’re around each other 24 hours at a time, so you get to know people a lot more than you would at a regular job,” said Captain Wagner.

“I’ve always known my dad, okay he’s a firefighter, you know, so, I don’t know. I’m curious to see what he does. Now he’s probably gonna be a full time grandpa,” Hagen said.

Hagen was born the same year that her father was sworn in, and said that she grew up going into the fire station regularly.

“It’s bittersweet. I grew up like basically at the fire station with him. So, I have a lot of memories,” Hagen said.

Hagen told us that her father is ready to retire, and the family is looking forward to spending more time together.

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