Eye on KELOLAND

Eye on KELOLAND: Responding to duties

Sometimes people take on second jobs, because they need to earn enough money to make ends meet.

A Sioux Falls firefighter has a second job, but as you're about to see in tonight's Eye on KELOLAND, he earns more than just money; he earns respect. 

Captain Mike Murphy has been a firefighter for 13 years.  As you can probably imagine, the days aren't always pleasant. 

But this day is a good day.  

He and two of his firefighting brothers are rolling into the Leif Ericson Day Camp not to put out a fire, but rather to ignite some excitement for the kids; kids he knows very well.   

"I feel like I'm pretty lucky to have two of the most amazing jobs in the world," Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Captain Mike Murphy said.

You see, long before Murphy was a firefighter he worked at Leif Ericson Day Camp.   

Now in his 23rd year, he's the camp director, and has been for the past six years.

Murphy says both jobs are rewarding. 

"I think probably the biggest thing is, it allows me to serve, obviously, I serve in different capacities in both roles, but it's an opportunity to give back to the community," Murphy said.

Today they're teaching the kids about fire safety and the 60 pounds of equipment they have to wear even on a hot summer day. 

But one of Murphy's biggest events that he ever responded to was on a cold December day in downtown Sioux Falls, the Copper Lounge building collapse.  He acted as the structural supervisor making sure the building was stable enough for firefighters to conduct search and rescue.  One person died in the collapse, but firefighters were able to rescue a young woman, who was buried in the rubble. 

The other big incident that affected him, was a house fire on North Main Avenue where three kids lost their lives.  

"I have three young kids myself at home and it definitely comes to mind when you respond to those types of calls where it affects you and unfortunately those are some of the tougher calls for us as firefighters," Murphy said. 

But responding to an emergency isn't just left to Murphy's firefighting duties.

This past spring he responded to his own emergency at Leif Ericson Day Camp, when this entire area was under water after the Big Sioux River flooded. 

It caused widespread damage, leaving many wondering if there would even be camp this year.  But workers say Murphy wasn't about to let that happen. 

"Before we were even able to get down here before the water receded he already had a game plan for us he had a list of key areas he wanted us to check out and that helped us out a lot because when the water went down we were able hit the ground running and get right on top of it," Matt Pesicka said. 

Thanks to a lot of help from volunteers, Murphy got the camp back in shape and up and running for the start of the summer season. 

The kids love him. 

Don Jorgensen: What do you think about him being a firefighter? 
That's really cool he owns this camp and he is a firefighter that's really cool," 9-year-old Jake Hohn said. 

"He's a really nice guy he owns a camp for kids, so he has to be," 9-year-old Merik Deffenbaugh said. 

You're probably wondering how he manages his time to work both jobs.  

Murphy says it's pretty easy, because as a firefighter he works every other day at station 5.  

On his off days, he's down here at camp. 

"I guess some might say I'm a bit of workaholic, I don't mind putting in the extra hours that are necessary to make it work on both ends," Murphy said.  

Murphy says he feels pretty blessed, because when he's having a bad day as a firefighter, just one smile from a camper can brighten his day. 

Don Jorgensen: Any similarities between the two, you put out fires there you put out fires here?  
Mike: Absolutely there are a lot, a lot it comes down to responding trying to make things better if you can and try to come to a quick solution and there's definitely that management role," Murphy said. 

And because he's in that management role in both jobs, he has the power to do this. No smoke or flames, just a burning desire to make camp a fun place to be.  
 


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