Posted on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 at 8:35 pm
“Go for broke.”
It was the motto of the Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army during World War II, and it’s been a career-long mantra for Lt. Rick Miyagawa, who retires from the Madison Fire Department after 30 years of dedicated service.
Meaning “to wager everything,” the phrase exemplifies the spirit with which Miyagawa forged his path in the department.
“Go for it. See what happens!”
Miyagawa’s roots in Madison run deep. The West High graduate says he’s proud to be a life-long westsider. By his estimation, he’s one of the lucky ones who figured out at a young age that Madison is a great place to live. In fact, he says some of his best years at the MFD were spent serving his own neighborhood from Fire Station 4 on Monroe Street.
“I grew up between (Stations) 4 and 9. That was home,” he said. “I knew every street, every alley, every building when I was down there. I was comfortable there.”
He was drawn to the fire service when his childhood best friend went into fire science. For Miyagawa, it turned out to be the perfect career because he “doesn’t sit still very well.”
His 30 years in the department were evenly split among three different ranks: 10 years as a firefighter, 10 years as an Apparatus Engineer, and 10 years as a Lieutenant.
As an Apparatus Engineer at Station 2, he found himself one day as the first-in acting officer at a fire on Junction Road. Ladder 2 was dispatched in a single-engine response for a leaking gas grill on a fourth-floor balcony. As they rounded the corner to the apartment complex, the fire which began at the neck of a propane cylinder spread to the base of the balcony, up the wall, into the eaves and attic, and onto the roof.
“For a single-engine response to grow into a multi-million dollar loss…” Miyagawa reflected. “…Yikes.”
All told, the incident grew into a two-alarm response that took over two hours for firefighters to control and resulted in $2 million in damages, but it also catalyzed a change in City ordinance pertaining to the use of grills on balconies.
In addition to firefighting, Miyagawa was a longstanding member of the MFD Tech Rescue Team, which eventually came to be known as the Heavy Urban Rescue Team (HURT). Though the HURT is based at Station 8 on Madison’s east side, he served as a satellite member while continuing to work at fire stations on the west side. The training brought experiences he would never have found anywhere else.
“How many people get to go rappelling at the Kohl Center and Field House, or get to jump off a water tower, or go to Volk Field to work in ‘The Pile?’” he said, referencing a military training ground where the HURT simulates a building collapse.
His father was a national collegiate championship boxer, a sport that brought him family to Madison from Maui in the 1940s. So it may be no surprise to find that athletic talent runs in the family.
In addition to coaching his sons’ baseball, hockey, and lacrosse teams, Miyagawa has been a member of the Madison Fire Department's hockey team since its inception. He says playing left wing, #9, has not only been fun— it's been rewarding.
“Hockey is a sport I really love,” he said. “And we’ve done great things for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
The Madison Firefighters Hockey Club’s mission includes supporting charitable organizations in the community. When the team won a national tournament in Nashville last year, it donated its $1000 prize to the Mosquitoes, a local disabled youth hockey team.
Miyagawa looks forward to playing with the team well into retirement, starting with the Battle Of the Badges 2017 Hockey Classic on January 28.
There are also more travel opportunities on the horizon. With a family visit to Maui in March, a summer in Alaska, and a September hunting trip to Montana, there’s much to look forward to. But his heart — and home — will remain in Madison. Plus, his son Richard continues to serve as a firefighter at Fire Station 3 on Williamson Street.
“I’m very proud to say I was born and raised in Madison and had the opportunity to work for the City of Madison,” he said. “But it’s time to free up these lieutenant bars for someone else.”
To his successors, he has one simple message: Go for broke.
Pictured above: Lt. Rick Miyagawa with son Bennett, wife Marsha, and son (Firefighter) Richard Miyagawa
Subscribe to Email List
- Meet Firefighter Dontrell McIntyre
- Meet Firefighter Michael Sepulveda
- Meet Firefighter Allie Feys
- Meet Firefighter Chelsea Utzerath
- Meet Firefighter Heather Seeber
- Meet Firefighter Devin Rogers
- Meet Firefighter Jessie Bowden
- Meet Firefighter Seth Dahmen
- Meet Firefighter Josh Popanz
- Meet Firefighter Ryan Liss
- Meet Firefighter Lexi Wagner
- Meet Firefighter Julie Griessmeyer
- Meet Firefighter Jay Watson
- Meet Recruit Class 8!
- Rick Mulhern, Leader In Technical Rescue and Peer Support, Retires From MFD
- Burn Awareness Week: About UW Hospital's Burn Center
- Burn Awareness Week: Identifying and Treating Burns
- Burn Awareness Week: Sunburn and Frostbite
- Burn Awareness Week: Home Oxygen Safety
- Burn Awareness Week: Preventing Cooking-Related Scalds and Burns
- Meet Firefighter Brennan Boughton
- Meet Firefighter Mike Lothe
- Meet Firefighter Mitch Hanson
- Meet Firefighter Sam Coenen
- Meet Firefighter Marshall Angst
- Meet Firefighter Brandon Courts
- Meet Firefighter Grahm Yahn
- Meet Firefighter Tom Shannon
- Meet Firefighter Joe Parrillo
- Meet Firefighter Ryan Dostalek
- MFD Introduces Recruit Class 7!
- MFD's Community Education Division Teaches Kids To BE AWARE
- LEARN Two Ways Out Of Every Room
- LISTEN For The Sound Of The Smoke Alarm
- LOOK: Fire Hazards May Lurk In Your Home
- First Annual Richard Garner Memorial Ride Raises Over $14,000 For Scholarship Fund
- Meet Lieutenant Zak Smith
- Meet Lieutenant Eric Mills
- We Send Our Condolences To Sun Prairie Today
- Meet Lieutenant Liza Tatar
- Meet Lieutenant David Crossen II
- Four New Lieutenants Assume Position At Area Fire Stations
- National EMS Memorial Bike Ride Pays A Visit To Station 4
- Engine 10 Helps Reunite Mama Duck With Four Stranded Ducklings
- Home Fire Sprinklers: A Small Investment That Could Save Your Life
- New Aerial Platform Ladder Truck Hits The Road On Madison's West Side
- Show Us Your Smarts: Take the Home Fire Sprinkler Quiz!
- Fire Sprinkler Protection: See the Difference!
- Hiding In Plain Sight: Choosing Concealed Fire Sprinklers
- The Truth About Home Fire Sprinklers
- Seconds Matters: How Home Fire Sprinklers Save Lives
- Meet Firefighter Michael Samosky
- Meet Firefighter Nickolas George
- Meet Firefighter Desmond Leidich
- Meet Firefighter Kyle Kampmeier
- Meet Firefighter Jonathan Clinkscale
- Meet Firefighter John Clooten
- Meet Firefighter McKinnan Stamschror
- Meet Firefighter Ryan Raisbeck
- Meet Firefighter Daniel Ramirez
- Meet Firefighter Brett Bower
- Meet Firefighter Bryce Powell
- Meet Firefighter Daniel Congdon
- Meet Firefighter Larry Moen
- Meet Firefighter Charles Campbell
- Meet Firefighter Casey Endres
- Meet Firefighter Benjamin Nevarez
- Recruit Class 6 Reports For Duty
- New Solar Panels Installed At Fire Station 12
- Fire Prevention Week: Fire Prevention Quiz
- Fire Prevention Week: Easy-To-See House Numbers Help Us Find You Faster!
- Fire Prevention Week: Practice Your Escape Plan!
- Fire Prevention Week: How To Make A Home Fire Escape Plan
- Fire Prevention Week: Every Second Counts -- Know 2 Ways Out!
- Now Accepting Firefighter Applications!
- CampHERO for Women Coming Up Saturday!
- A 'Thank You' Note To Our Partners On Stratton Way
- Madison Launches 'PulsePoint Verified Responder' Pilot Program
- Meet Lieutenant Jeffery Vogen
- Meet Lieutenant Chris Hammes
- Meet Lieutenant Wes Ecker
- Meet Lieutenant Chris Carbon
- Meet Lieutenant Linnea Anderson
- Meet Lieutenant Dan Williams
- MFD Introduces Six New Lieutenants!
- Upcoming Community Events!
- ER Docs Dive Into Firefighting During 'Doc Ops Day'
- MFD Lends Helping Hand At Gilbert Brown Football Camp
- Special Delivery: “Beltline Jax” Makes A Grand Entrance
- New Lease On Life: Oregon Man Reconnects With Crew That Helped Save Him
- 235 New Smoke Alarms Move Into Sherman Terrace!
- Captain Todd Steyer Wraps Up A Fulfilling 30-Year Career With MFD
- Calling All Volunteers! CampHERO Kicks Off Its 6th Season
- EMS Q&A: Where can I learn CPR?
- EMS Q&A: Did you know MFD paramedics are also firefighters?
- EMS Q&A: What should I expect after calling for an ambulance?
- EMS Q&A: What’s the difference between an EMT and a Paramedic? How many paramedics are on duty?
- EMS Q&A: Why does a fire truck come when I call for an ambulance?
- Meet Firefighter Maj-Britt Williams
- Meet Firefighter Adam Thimmig
- Meet Firefighter Ruth Savard
- Meet Firefighter Mike Reisman
- Meet Firefighter Trent Meicher
- Meet Firefighter Jonathon McCray
- Meet Firefighter Adam Lesser
- Meet Firefighter Patrick Johnson
- Meet Firefighter Kyle Homan
- Meet Firefighter Joe Gangler
- Meet Firefighter Justin Fehrenbach
- Meet Firefighter Matthew Dykstra
- Meet Firefighter Brandon Douglas
- Meet Firefighter Tamara Dinkel
- Meet Firefighter Marta Darrow
- Meet Firefighter Davy Calkins
- Meet Firefighter Ryan Beckwith
- MFD Introduces 18 New Firefighters!
- A Greener Firehouse: How Fire Station 12 LEEDs the Way
- Meet AE Brad Vogen
- Meet AE Vince Soto
- Meet AE Chad Powell
- Meet AE Daniel Pazurek
- Meet AE Todd Mahoney
- Meet Apparatus Engineer Cole Christenson
- Meet AE Derek Brown
- New Apparatus Engineers Now Serving In Your Neighborhood!
- Dane County EMS Banquet Honors Survivors, Responders Involved In Cardiac Saves
- On This Day In History: The First 911 Call Is Placed In 1968
- PHOTOS: Getting Up Close With The Lake Rescue Team
- Sable Flames "Second Alarm" Benefit Enters Its 24th Year
- Madison's Iranian Community Comes Together To Honor Firefighters
- Building Connections, Inspiring Kids: Engine 12 At Olson Elementary School
- Welcome Home: Cooper's Hawk Returns To Willy Street
- The Results Are In: 91 Donations Collected During the “Never Forget” Blood Drive
- Meet AE Ethan Dade
- Meet AE Wade Raddatz
- Meet AE Lance Radock
- Meet AE Jacob Conner
- Meet AE Dan Smith
- Meet AE Kevin Hembrook
- National Preparedness Month: Special Needs Disaster Planning
- Meet AE Tom Winter
- Meet AE Lori Karst
- MFD Introduces Eight New Apparatus Engineers
- Reflections On This 15th Anniversary Of 9/11
- Generous Grant Brings New "Jaws Of Life" Equipment To Ladder 6
- National Preparedness Month: Creating Communication and Evacuation Plans
- National Preparedness Month: Don't Wait. Communicate.
- Project SOAR and the MFD
- “Doc Ops Day” Gives ER Docs A Taste Of Firefighter Life
- Two Years After Accident, Family And First Responders Celebrate 'A Miracle'
- Madison Fire Aims To Keep Injuries Well Under Par At PGA Championships
- “It’s Been A Great Ride," Says Retiring Driver John Lucille
- A Thank-You Gift For All To Enjoy
- “Friday Nights At the Y” Returns In 2016
- Meet Lt. Lisa Becher
- Meet Lt. Derek Teff
- Meet Lt. Casey Preimesberger
- Resources For Candidates Preparing For the Physical Ability Test
- Meet Lt. Sue Juedes
- Meet Lt. Ted Higgins
- Meet Lt. Matthew Mialik
- Meet Lt. Michael McCartney
- MFD Introduces Seven New Lieutenants
- Inside The Galaxie: Making Madison's Newest High Rise Safer For All
- Edgewood Students Donate Stuffed Animals For Kids Experiencing Trauma
- Apparatus Engineer "Recon Bob" Says Goodbye After 25 Years Of Service
- New Boat Enhances MFD Lake Rescue Capabilities
- With Gratitude, Division Chief Ron Schwenn Bids Farewell To the MFD
- New Training Technology Aims to Offer Full Immersion, Minus the Risks
- In the Midst Of Transitions, Our Crews Don't Miss A Beat
- Finance Manager Rita Johnson Retires After 44 Years With the City
- Farewell to West District Captain Tom Reiter
- Meet Firefighter Caluster Buie
- Meet Firefighter Steven Foulks
- Meet Firefighter Richard Miyagawa
- Meet Firefighter Joshua Balli
- Meet Firefighter Matthew Boyle
- Meet Firefighter Oscar Castillo
- Meet Firefighter David Bartkowiak
- Meet Firefighter Christopher Staveness
- Meet Firefighter Michael Guerten
- Meet Firefighter Marcus Bobholz
- Meet Firefighter Joshua Ramsey
- Meet Firefighter Michael Olson
- Meet Firefighter Eric Popovich
- Meet Firefighter Paul Schecklman
- Meet Firefighter Brian Tremain
- Meet Firefighter Cameron Gasaway
- Meet Firefighter Vaughn Brockel
- Why We Do What We Do: Remembering the Our Lady of the Angels Fire
- Meet Firefighter Brian Bieganski
- Farewell To AASPIRE Intern Casey Tubbs
- Meet Lt. Tim Hagen
- Meet Lt. Jeff Mast
- Meet Lt. Matt Thomas
- Meet Lt. AJ Greenlee
- Meet Lt. Chris Homman
- Join The Team Current News
- MFD Introduces Five New Lieutenants
- Saving Santa at Station 3
- MFD Mailbag: Kudos For the Crew of Engine 7A
- Madison Fire Recruit Class 4 Begins
- MFD Begins Serving Towns of Blooming Grove, Burke Today
- The Madison Fire Department Prepares For Inaugural "Shake the Lake" Event
- The Heavy Urban Rescue Team Practices Life-Saving Skills
- Safety Saturday 2015: A Day In Photos
- Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Boss Lift
- Firefighter Fun Day 2015 is Saturday, August 8
- Retired Firefighter Tim Healy Inducted Into Madison Sports Hall Of Fame
- Firefighter Ty Stebbins Sworn In
Emergency Medical Services
- 100 Black Men of Madison
- A Day In The Life Of A Madison Firefighter
- Alix Olson Award
- Awards & Recognition
- Battle Of the Badges
- Black History Month
- Burn Awareness Week
- CARE Program
- Central Storage Warehouse fire
- Community Outreach
- Dane County Public Safety Communications
- Emergency Operation Center
- Fire Academy
- Fire Admin Project
- Fire Hydrants
- Fire Prevention Division
- fire prevention month
- Fire Prevention Week
- Fire Safety School Tours
- Fire Stations
- Firefighter Fun Day
- Friday Nights at the Y
- Hazmat Team
- Heavy Urban Rescue Team
- Hiring & Promotions
- Home Fire Sprinklers
- Ice Safety
- Join the Team
- Lake Rescue Team
- Madison Fire EMS
- Madison Police
- Meet the MFD
- MFD Behind the Scenes
- MFD Frequently Asked Questions
- MFD Mailbag
- MFD Prevention Division
- National Preparedness Month
- Our Lady Of the Angels
- public health
- Public Safety
- Rural Water Movement
- Sable Flames
- Safety Town
- Shake the Lake
- The American Center
- Town of Blooming Grove
- Town of Burke
- Training & Professional Development
- UW Health
- Veterans Day
- Wanda Fullmore Youth Internship Program
- Winter Safety