You could say that Mike Cottrell is like Superman. Why? Because he has a second, and pretty heroic, identity. Mike is a TDS field service technician by day, but by night (and weekends) he’s the Fire Chief of the Flora, Ind. Fire Department.
Mike has worked for TDS for 14 years and has been a fire fighter for 23. He said he has worked his way up the ranks, from “hose jockey” to Chief. When asked how he got started, he said that being a volunteer fire fighter seems to be a family tradition.
“My dad was a fire fighter and I grew up seeing that and being involved. It was a family affair,” Mike said. Apparently Mike’s son, Mitchell, agreed—he now volunteers as well. Of course it didn’t hurt that Mike would sometimes take Mitchell along on a call, even bringing him along at age 6 to a barn fire (Mitchell stayed in the truck to watch).
Although Mike plays multiple roles in the community, his two worlds don’t collide. He’s never been on a TDS call and discovered a fire…but that doesn’t mean that fire safety isn’t always on his mind. Mike said, “I have noticed a couple of times when I’ve been out for TDS, that a family doesn’t have smoke detectors. I’ll take note of it, get some from the fire department when I’m there, and drop them off at the house later.”
If being a service tech and the fire chief weren’t enough, Mike also teaches fire-fighting classes two evenings a week during the winter months. This year though, getting to those classes on time has been a challenge—Mike has been pulling extra hours on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus project. He has been helping install 6 new equipment to deliver high-speed Internet throughout the community.
Mike says the hard work is worth it though. Residents are anxiously awaiting the Internet service, especially those who previously only had access via satellite. “People are really excited,” he said. “So many customers are friends of mine. They’re really thrilled to get reliable Internet at a better price.”
Mike himself has already been enjoying one stimulus-related upgrade. An older, unreliable cable located near a highway has now been replaced with new fiber and copper. Now he doesn’t have to stop next to the busy road to make repairs.
It’s clear that given Mike’s vocation and avocation, he likes to give back to his community. He said, “It’s a lot of fun and it’s rewarding.” Superman, indeed.
To read about a recent fire Mike and the Flora fire department helped put out, click here.