Shelby Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ben Widhalm, left, was honored to present long-time serving fireman Cliff Fey with a trophy commemorating 40 years of service with the department recently at the fire hall.

Countless missed family gatherings, lost business revenue when having to close up in the middle of the day, rudely awakened in the middle of the night and expected to be ready to go and go now, all by choice, for 40 years. Who does that? Cliff Fey, for one. Fey has been a member of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) for 40 years, a monumental milestone and one he was honored for recently.

“No one else has ever done 40 years with the department,” said SVFD Chief Ben Widhalm. “Cliff is one of the most dedicated people I know, both to the Shelby Fire Department and the surrounding community. I am amazed at the dedication and long hours he still puts in after all of these years. He is a special individual and there is no one else quite like him.”

Fey was 28-years-old when he joined the fire department. Jim Horner originally convinced him to join and he’s never looked back. Over the past four decades he has been lieutenant, captain and assistant chief. 

During that span of years he has seen many changes, for the better. More safety measures in place, the modern equipment and more training have made the work Fey and his fellow firefighters do just a bit less dangerous than it once was.

One of many reasons Fey is and has been an invaluable part of the crew is his willingness to lock up his shop during the day and respond. He owns and operates Cliff’s Body Shop and Towing.

“During the day there is a shortage of guys that can get to a fire,” explained Fey. “I have always just locked my doors and showed up, day or night.”

Willing to go fight fire at a moment’s notice hasn’t only cost Fey some money over the years, but time with his family as well. Dinners have been interrupted, holidays missed, but for Fey helping save people and property is worth it. 

Helping others and the special bond shared amongst those on the crew are a couple of the main reasons Fey has dedicated the past four decades to the department and will continue to into the future. The friendships made, the opportunity to work with people and help members of his community are all seen as benefits of the job by Fey. Something he is not willing to give up anytime soon.”

“They said I’m the first one to put in 40 years here,” smiled Fey. “So I guess I’ll probably be the first one to do 45, too. We have a great fire department and I am proud to be a part of it.”

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