Firefighters remember Capt. Pete Oetting

Jefferson City firetruck driver Joel Swader wears a black mourning band on his badge while he and other department firefighters make preparations to render honors for retired fire Capt. Pete Oetting’s funeral procession as it passes Station 3 on Industrial Boulevard on Saturday.

Jefferson City firetruck driver Joel Swader wears a black mourning band on his badge while he and other department firefighters make preparations to render honors for retired fire Capt. Pete Oetting’s funeral procession as it passes Station 3 on Industrial Boulevard on Saturday. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Jefferson City firefighters spent time Saturday afternoon honoring the memory of retired Capt. Pete Oetting.

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Oetting, 68, passed away Tuesday. He had served with the Jefferson City Fire Department from 1969 through May 1994. After retiring from the department, Oetting, who also had served in the U.S. Army, began working for the Missouri Department of Corrections as assistant fire and safety coordinator and eastern region safety coordinator before retiring in 2011.

Oetting’s funeral was held Saturday afternoon and, as a special celebration of Oetting’s life, firefighters did a drive-by of two city stations afterward.

Capt. Darren “Bear” Reuter said Oetting was a great firefighter and presence at the city’s fire stations.

“He was just a fantastic man to work for,” Reuter said. “He liked to joke around, have a good time … He always wanted to have a good laugh.”

But when it came down to business, Reuter said, he would quickly get serious. Reuter said Oetting was a “matter-of-fact person” who always let people know what was on his mind. He taught the younger staff well, Reuter said, and was involved in a number of big rescues throughout Jefferson City during his time in the department. Reuter recalled one flash flood rescue at Capitol Plaza in 1992, where Oetting was able to keep the garage doors forced open to allow people to escape the rising flood waters.

Capt. Tim Young said that particular rescue resulted in saving eight people who had been caught in the garage of the Capitol Plaza. And in the flood of 1993, Young said Oetting was photographed rescuing a girl out of her vehicle on Broadway Street.

“He was a very good member of the Fire Department, a very strong member,” Young said.

Oetting was one of the very first emergency medical technicians in the department, Young said, which is now a standard practice as the department often is the first responder to medical emergencies.

Young said he would remember most Oetting’s steady demeanor.

“He was the same way all the time,” Young said. “Kind of comical, serious when he needed to be, a pretty fun guy to be around.”

And even after he retired, Reuter said Oetting would continue to visit the stations, picking on the staff and keeping up with the department.

“He’s going to be missed by many,” Young said.

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