Saturday, Jan. 20, family, friends, colleagues, and coworkers gathered at Red Ribbon Hall in Eaton Rapids to honor Kim Freer for his three decades of service with the Eaton Rapids fire department. More than 100 people arrived to give their thanks and congratulations to Kim as he retired from his post.

Kim grew up in Eaton Rapids, and joined the fire department in 1987. His brother, Richard Freer, was fire chief at the time. Kim was already working for the city when he joined, and had some knowledge of the duties from being around his brother and working on the fire equipment. Richard was fire chief for 25 years and retired from the department in 1999. When Roger McNutt took over as chief, he appointed Kim as assistant chief.

“When I first joined I thought I would put in 10 years. Then 10 turned to 20, and 20 to 30,” said Kim.

What started as a simple service to his community turned into something much more for Kim. The men he worked with were like brothers and sons, and they kept him working with the department for 30 years.

“They’re a good group of people and easy to get along with. When it comes time to do work they’re all business and they do what needs to be done,” said Kim. “The camaraderie on a department is second to none.”

Kim’s feelings about his home community are similar to those of the department. There’s no community he would have rather served than his hometown.

“You go out and meet people and they appreciate the job that you do. They’re just thankful there’s people that do it.”

Many things have changed since Kim first joined the department. He was on the department when it was still located on Main Street, and equipment has come and gone. He’s impressed nowadays by the rigorous training new firefighters go through, which is beyond what he did back in the 80s. Kim is also impressed by the interconnectedness of departments and EMS services throughout the area.

At 62 years old, Kim is content with the work he’s done. After a knee replacement last April, and a promise to his wife that he’d retire after a certain age, Kim felt it was time. But he feels the department and its over 100-year legacy is in good hands. Kim leaves his own legacy within the department. His son Jason, daughter-in-law Robin, and grandson Mark are all on the department.

“I hope the community keeps supporting the department the way they always have.”