Firefighters get engaged in bucketPublished 9:24am Wednesday, February 15, 2012
City of Niles firefighter Judy Schlutt did not expect to spend Valentine’s Day evening riding blindfolded around Niles.
Her boyfriend, Niles Township firefighter Andy Hartman, took her out for dinner. She wore a dress and tights for the occasion.
Schlutt, however, had no way of knowing she would end the night standing in 34-degree weather, in the bucket of a ladder truck, unable to see.
Schlutt, a Niles native, and Hartman, a Buchanan native, met two years ago during a firefighter training session at the former Niles police station on South Third Street. The zipper on Schlutt’s fire jacket became stuck during training and Hartman helped fix it. It was their first interaction together.
“I joked that we’d have to cut the jacket off and she laughed,” Hartman said. “If felt a connection with her right away.”
The location’s sentimental value is why Hartman chose it for his proposal.
Hartman’s father, Danny Gleason, of Buchanan, said his son is a sheriff’s deputy and a medic for Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service.
“He turned out good,” Gleason said prior to the proposal Tuesday night.
Family members and firefighters waited for the couple to arrive at about 10 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of the former police station. Hartman had arranged for City of Niles firefighters to bring the ladder truck and position it so he could lead Schlutt blindfolded into the bucket. The crowd didn’t make a sound while this all took place.
“When I got in the ladder truck I could tell (where I was),” said Schlutt, who felt “cold” and “excited” after the proposal.
After the couple was lifted in the air, the blindfold was removed. Hartman played Schlutt a song he had recorded for her. Then he got down on one knee and proposed.
She said “yes.”