Warne named Macomb Township Firefighter of the Year

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 2, 2019

 Joe Warne, of Macomb Township, is the 2019 Macomb Township Firefighter of the Year. He has worked with the department for seven years. He is pictured with his wife, Kristie Warne.

Joe Warne, of Macomb Township, is the 2019 Macomb Township Firefighter of the Year. He has worked with the department for seven years. He is pictured with his wife, Kristie Warne.

Photo provided by Macomb Township Professional Firefighters Local 5023

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Even when not at work, Joe Warne continues helping the public.

Warne received the 2019 Macomb Township Firefighter of the Year award, sponsored by the Mount Clemens Elks Lodge, March 18.

“It’s been humbling winning the award,” he said. “I feel it’s still a team award. I wish it wasn’t just me up there receiving it. I have a whole team with the Fire Department — trainers, chiefs and fellow brothers and sisters. Without them, I’m not the firefighter I am today.”

Warne works at fire station No. 2 on 21 Mile Road, west of Romeo Plank Road and has worked for the Macomb Township Fire Department for seven years. Prior to moving to Macomb Township, Warne, 38,  worked as a firefighter in Texas for three years. He’s a Madison Heights native.

“Warne’s passion to help others often goes beyond the duties of his job,” Macomb Township Professional Firefighters Local 5023 posted on its Facebook page. “His dedication to helping others is just one of the reasons for receiving this award.”

Macomb Township Fire Chief Robert Phillips said members of the command staff submitted names and Warne was the overwhelming choice for Firefighter of the Year.

In his role as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, Warne said, “I do pretty much anything my officers tell me to do. We do training, run a lot of medical calls, and any type of fire or car accidents.”

When he’s not serving Macomb Township residents as a firefighter, Warne runs Neighbors United, a nonprofit organization he founded.

“We help homeless veterans, children with cancer, domestic violence survivors and local families,” he said. “We give them gift cards to get through any type of issues they may have. Whether that be covering the cost of gas to get to or from the doctors or for groceries.”

Its mission is to help one family at a time by going to great lengths to do great things for those who are in need or down on their luck.

“He’s always willing to go above and beyond, which shows with his nonprofit and why he was nominated and awarded,” Phillips said. “He’s always looking to help others that are in need.”

Warne shared a story from 2009 that was one of the reasons he started Neighbors United. At that time, he had recently lost his job with Chrysler and his father, who was living in Michigan, had a heart attack while Warne was living in Texas.

“I didn’t have any money to get here to see him because I was in school and laid off, so my wife and I were just trying to stay afloat,” Warne said. “A friend of mine, who was also jobless, got us tickets to fly home to see my father while he was going through triple bypass.”

Fast forward a few years after that experience, Warne moved back to Michigan, with his father in better health and with a new job.

“I went to pay my friend back for the tickets and he said, ‘We don’t want the money. We want you to give it to someone in need.’ My friend’s wife came down with breast cancer and we raised some funds for her and it kind of spiraled out of control from there.”     

Warne previously was recognized for his efforts as a firefighter in 2017 when he received the life saving award for his actions on July 16, 2016.

“It was the same day my grandmother passed away, so for me to even be at work, is kind of a coincidence in itself,” he said. “I showed up on scene, our whole department was busy and it happened to be an allergic reaction. I was the only one on scene for a few minutes and we were able to get the person back and to the hospital, where he was able to be fully revived.”

For Warne, what gives him the most joy as a firefighter is seeing how folks’ lives are changed.

“As a firefighter and with Neighbors United, being with your brothers and sisters all the time and making a difference, that’s what is the most enjoyable,” he said.

Phillips said Warne has a passion to see everyone succeed and he puts everything he has into the nonprofit, even after a 24-hour shift.

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