Wednesday, October 21, 2020

After 19 Years, Mary Husted Retires from Fire Department


Marco firefighters pose with Mary Husted after her she received her proclamation. Photos by Samantha Husted

Marco firefighters pose with Mary Husted after her she received her proclamation. Photos by Samantha Husted

Author’s Note: As a journalist I’ve had the privilege of interviewing and documenting a lot of interesting people. This particular story, however, hits close to home. It’s my honor to share with you the story of my mother, Mary Husted, and her recent retirement from the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department of which she worked for 19 years.

Mary Husted began her career with the City of Marco Island in 1998—a time when the city was in its infancy. New programs were being implemented, additional employees were being hired, and city services were expanding.

Mary Husted receives a surprise pink firefighter helmet from Fire Chief Michael Murphy.

Mary Husted receives a surprise pink firefighter helmet from Fire Chief Michael Murphy.

Mary, a Massachusetts native, moved to the island in November of 1992 with her husband Michael. Prior to her move to Florida, Mary worked as a business systems analyst in the insurance industry. Upon her arrival to Marco Island, she was employed as a branch office secretary for Prudential Florida Realty. Mary worked in several other positions in the area before finally landing on the City of Marco Island where she would stay for the next 19 years.

Initially, Mary was hired as a public safety secretary where she worked closely with both the police and fire departments. In her role she assisted in the development of the public safety program. Then, in August of 2000, Mary accepted the position of administrative assistant for the City of Marco Island Fire Rescue Department.

Mary Husted thanked Chief Michael Murphy, Deputy Chief David Batiato, and Fire Marshall Ray Munyon during her speech on Aug. 7.

Mary Husted thanked Chief Michael Murphy, Deputy Chief David Batiato, and Fire Marshall Ray Munyon during her speech on Aug. 7.

In her new position, Mary was responsible for department purchasing, state reporting, and was the first line of contact with the public.

“She’s helped so many citizens over the years,” Fire Chief Michael Murphy said. “She’s the person on the phone when people were calling and she got them to where they needed to be and she did the job she was there to do. We truly, truly are going to miss her.”

Mary worked closely with Fire Chief Michael Murphy, assisting him with the daily operations of the Fire Rescue Department. Together they worked as a team, Mary acting as a support to Chief Murphy’s many responsibilities within the city, county, and state. Chief Murphy, subsequently, saw much strength in Mary, especially when it came to her computer knowledge. He urged her to pursue additional training in order to fine-tune her skills.

“I appreciate that Chief Murphy encouraged and supported me to take on new challenges outside of my comfort zone,” Mary said.

One of her more important roles as an administrative assistant was as a scribe for the city’s Emergency Operation Center. There she would document the city’s response during hurricanes and other tropical storm events and report her findings to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She was required to stay at the fire department during Hurricane Wilma and Charley.

“It was exciting and exhausting to be on the front lines during the hurricanes,” Mary said. “During Hurricane Wilma, I was able to walk outside with the firefighters and experience the eye of the storm as it passed over Marco.”

Throughout the years Mary was able to assist other city departments in a variety of ways including the issuance of identification cards and the maintenance of the city cell phone program. She also participated on the Employee Benefit Committee and remains a trustee of the Fire Pension Board.

The firefighters celebrated Mary’s last day by giving her a ride home in the fire truck. The ride was a fun and symbolic way to honor her 19 years of service.

“It was a good way to go out with a bang,” Mary said.

At the August 7th City Council Meeting, Mary was presented with a proclamation commending her for her many years of employment with the city. Firefighters filled the room to show their support and to say their goodbyes. The proclamation read in part, “Mary’s energy, humor, knowledge and wisdom will be sorely missed by fellow employees and citizens of Marco Island.”

“Mary has been the heartbeat of the fire department,” Chief Murphy said. “She’s held together our family.”

During the presentation Chief Murphy and Deputy Chief David Batiato surprised Mary with a pink Marco Island Fire Department official fire helmet. The helmet is the same as those worn by the fire fighters in the department, except Mary’s helmet is pink and reads “Admin Assist.” According to Chief Murphy the present was unique, as “nobody else in the history of their department” has ever received a gift quite like it.

“I’d especially like to thank Chief Murphy, Chief Batiato and Fire Marshall Ray Munyon for their friendship and their leadership and their support all these years,” Mary said during the City Council Meeting.

“I have tremendous respect for what the firefighters do,” Mary said. “It really is an honor to be considered part of the family. They treated me with respect and would go out of their way to help me with anything I ever needed. I’ll miss everyone at the fire department.”

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