Man in mid-60s finds new passion as Pike Road firefighter

County Road 12: Man in mid-60s becomes Pike Road firefighter

PIKE ROAD, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s never too late in life to find a new passion. Just ask Merle Bobzien.

“I was born and raised in Burbank, California,” said Bobzien. “The hospital where I was born is in between Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Studios.”

Bobzien spent most of his life on the West Coast, teaching college classes, and then getting into the IT business. About three years ago he decided to make a change and move out East. He thought Nashville would be great, but he took a detour.

“I found this hidden gem called Pike Road,” he said.

And then a simple sign changed his life.

“It was a couple of years ago, and I was on Chantilly and saw a billboard that said there was an open house at the Pike Road Fire Department,” said Bobzien.

He was hooked. In his mid 60s, he went through the Alabama Fire College. Now, he’s part of the team.

“I’m often referred to as grandpa,” Bobzien said. “I could sit around at home and listen to my arteries harden. But why do that? Why not do something you really enjoy?”

It all became real when he got his helmet.

“That’s my helmet. When I got the real thing, oh yeah, I’m it.”

Getting his 142 helmet made things feel official
Getting his 142 helmet made things feel official (Source: WSFA 12 News)

His coworkers love his dedication. Bobzien has learned a lot in a short amount of time.

“It’s not as simple as just showing up and squirting some water on a fire. There’s a lot more to be done. There’s so much equipment on the trucks to learn where things are and how to use each one,” he said.

It’s safe to say he’s climbing to heights he never imagined, and loving every minute of it.

“I get to be a firefighter. I get to go around and enjoy doing this and take care of incidents. It’s just fun,” Bobzien said.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.