State Rep. Will Bruck on Wednesday led the Michigan House of Representatives in approving his plan to recognize fallen Monroe Township Fire Capt. Joseph M. Liedel with a stretch of highway named in his honor.
In the first vote of 2024, Bruck’s measure was approved by the House with unanimous support.
The legislation, House Bill 4845, would rename the stretch of highway where Liedel’s former fire station is located as the “Captain Joseph M. Liedel Memorial Highway.” The stretch would run along M-125, also known as South Dixie Highway, from the intersection with East Dunbar Road and continue south to the intersection with East Albain Road.
“Captain Liedel’s 28 years of service to our community deserve a heartfelt tribute,” said Bruck, R-Erie. “This stretch of highway will become a lasting memorial, symbolizing the gratitude we feel for the selflessness exhibited by Captain Liedel and all those who devote themselves to the well-being of our community, especially the full-time and volunteer firefighters in our county.”
On July 31, 2020, Liedel collapsed on the way to his vehicle as he was responding to a call. It was later determined that he had suffered a life-threatening brain bleed. Liedel was unable to recover from the incident and passed away on Aug. 24, 2020, at the age of 48.
Liedel is the only firefighter in the history of the Monroe Charter Township Fire Department to die in the line of duty.
During a speech before the vote, Bruck quoted Captain Liedel’s father James, who Bruck spoke with earlier this week. The elder Liedel served on the Monroe City Fire Department, frequently responding to calls alongside his son.
“His father told me, ‘Everyone knew him, and everyone loved him. When his fellow firefighters would show up on a call their first question was always, ‘Where is Joe?’ then ‘What do you need?’ They knew they were in good hands with Joe,’” Bruck said.
In September, Monroe Township firefighters joined Bruck to testify in support of the legislation before the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee.
Asst. Fire Chief Mike Broman, Retired Chief Larry Merkle and firefighter Brian Merkle reflected on Liedel’s passion for the job, his strong work ethic, and the time he spent assisting with the recovery efforts in New York City following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“He thought a lot of the New York Fire Department,” Broman said. “He was one of the first people to step up and say he wanted to go out there.”
They also touched on the many hats Liedel wore at the department – running calls, overseeing the department’s turnout gear, and maintaining the department’s boat.
“Joe was an asset to our department,” Larry Merkle said. “He probably ran at least 50- to 75-percent of all the calls. We spent a lot of time together discussing problems at the fire hall, and he would always jump right in and try to take care of things. I want everyone to understand how valuable Joe was to the department and the community itself.”
Brian Merkle said the road naming was a fitting tribute.
“The South Dixie Highway section of the road that Rep. Bruck is asking to name is directly in front of our headquarters fire station,” Brian Merkle said. “This is a fitting tribute to a man who gave his all for his community. It also helps us to make sure that future generations understand his sacrifice and the sacrifice of so many.”
Another group of firefighters joined Bruck at the State Capitol on Wednesday while the House voted on the legislation.
“I am grateful for the firefighters who have traveled up to Lansing, helping me keep Captain Liedel’s memory alive through their shared stories and cherished memories,” Bruck said. “Their presence honors his service and underscores the tight-knit camaraderie that defines the firefighting community.”
Bruck noted that the Monroe Township Fire Department has already raised the funds needed to purchase the signs to recognize Liedel along the highway once his legislation is signed into law.
House Bill 4845 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
State Rep. Will Bruck’s plan to honor fallen Monroe Township Fire Capt. Joseph M. Liedel was unanimously approved by the Senate this week. Having previously received unanimous approval from the House, it will soon be presented to the governor for her expected signature. The legislation, House Bill 4845, would rename the stretch of highway where […]
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