People you should know/Michael Morgan

Monday, April 8, 2002

  • Age: 47 years young

    Key responsibilities: As the fire marshal, I conduct plan reviews of all commercial construction and remodeling projects for fire safety and life safety components, ensuring that the plans meet the code requirements. I also do on-site job inspections during and at the completion of construction. I also issue permits of occupancy to the structures when the project is finished according to the approved plans. I serve as supervisor of the Fire Department Inspection Division, where we make sure that the buildings in Cape Girardeau are as safe as possible in regards to fire prevention and life safety for those that work, shop and relax in the many fine businesses in Cape.

    How long have you lived in Cape Girardeau: 22 years.

    Original hometown: I'm a transplant from nearby Jackson, Mo.

    Education: I'm a graduate of Jackson High School and a magna cum laude graduate from Southeast Missouri State University with a bachelor of science degree. I am also certified as Firefighter I and II, a Fire Service Instructor Level III and Fire Officer Levels I and II.

    Community involvement: I have 19 years of service with the Naval Reserve, serving as a senior chief equipment operator with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28, which is headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Currently, I am the officer-in-charge of the detachment of 72 Seabees here in Cape Girardeau. I am a member of the Assembly of God Church in town also.

    Professional background: Experienced heavy equipment operator, mechanic and truck-trailer driver; self-taught welder/fabricator, electrician and builder as well as a former junior high school teacher at Perryville before becoming a firefighter. Sounds like the proverbial jack of all trades, doesn't it?

    Name a Cape Girardeau business person you admire and why: Every individual who takes the step of being a self-employed businessperson is to be admired in this day of federal, state and local government rules and regulations. Small-business ownership, I believe, is still the backbone that has built this nation. Here in Cape, I see a lot of individuals still working to achieve that idea of being in business for oneself, of being their own boss. That takes a lot of determination along with sound planning to make a business succeed in this day of world-wide competition. I admire anyone willing to make that leap.

    Last book read: "Into the Crucible: The Making of Marines for the 21st Century," by James Woulfe.

    What you wanted to be when you were a child: I wanted to be a heavy equipment operator like my father. He was a self-employed excavating contractor following his return from the Korean War. I think every boy wants to be like his father. My father is Superman in my eyes. Thanks, Dad!

    How did you choose this career: A friend of mine from church suggested that I should try out to become a firefighter on the Cape Girardeau Fire Department. That was August of 1987. Fifteen years later, I'm still a member of the best fire department between St. Louis and Memphis.

    Biggest obstacle you've overcome and how: In high school, mathematics was not a subject I excelled in. During my university years, I told myself I had to do better. I managed to ace all of my math classes, not even having to take the advanced trigonometry class final because I had enough points already. This happened because I always did more problems than were assigned and wouldn't stop until I had an understanding of the math and its associated principles. Wisdom is great, but understanding needs to accompany that wisdom.

    Advice to someone new in your field: Read, read and read. Stay current on, and know, the building and fire codes. They should learn how to tactfully convey that inner desire to keep people safe to those that design and build the structures that the citizens of the community work in and shop in. When someone gets in your face because of your commitment to fire and life safety, remember to whom you have the responsibility to keep safe. Keep challenging yourself to know more.

    Hobbies, interests: I still enjoy weightlifting and aerobic conditioning during my lunch periods. I've got to try and keep up with these younger firefighters now. Military history and history in general are great subjects to read about. It gives you a greater sense of how the world and the United States have been shaped by the accomplishments of often ordinary men and women. When time allows, which it seldom does, I also try to keep the artistic skills going by drawing and painting.

    Accomplishments you're proud of: My two children. They are the greatest kids in the world and they mean everything to me. My daughter, Rachael, and my son, Zachary, are the lights of my life. I hope every father feels the same pride, happiness and joy that my kids give me.

    Secret ambition: I would like to finish my master's degree and teach at the university level when my days as a firefighter are completed.

    NEXT WEEK: Karen Green, bank officer at U.S. Bank.


    If you know someone who should be featured in "People You Should Know," contact Scott Moyers at 335-6611, extension 137, or by e-mail at

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