Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

Fire chief reflects on career

 

Star photo by Lillian Palmer

Fire Chief Mike Kennedy stands with a fire truck display he made for a Christmas display. Kennedy prepares to say goodbye to the Green River Fire Department as he retires from his post at the end of the year.

It was 1987, when a spry Mike Kennedy started his volunteer firefighter training for the Green River Fire Department.

After training, he was put on as a full-time volunteer in 1988. His fourth year on the squad, he became lieutenant and was in that position until December of 1999, when he was appointed as assistant fire chief. He transitioned to fire chief in 2008 and has been since, but alas it's time to relent the position.

"I will be 70 in February," Kennedy said. "I'm 69 and a whole bunch."

Kennedy was not always involved with fighting fires though, but he has worked with wood for much of his life. Before starting at the fire department, Kennedy was a journeyman cabinet maker and previously owned Longhorn Construction.

"I've always dabbled at cabinet work," he said.

What attracted him to fire fighting, he said was the excitement.

"It's something that just always excited me," he said. "The thrill."

The thrill and excitement of going out to meet a fire head on is not the only reason he's been so dedicated to the force for so many years though. Becoming a volunteer firefighter and then to continue on the ranks to chief takes more than a thrill to accomplish.

Before he was certified by the state to be a volunteer firefighter and put on at the Green River Fire Department, he had to go through five months of training and testing for state certification. After certification, it wasn't even a for sure decision he would be put on the department, but he went for it anyway.

For Kennedy, it was the fact that he was helping people that also made the job and commitment worth it.

"When you're there, you're helping someone," Kennedy said. "You just go to help people."

The fire department, and all fire departments as a whole are like a family.

"You're part of this huge family," he said. "I know if I am somewhere and need help, I know I can go to the fire department there. I know they will help me. It's a world-wide family."

Kennedy said the fire department is like a unit, like a family, they work together. An accomplishment he is proud of during his time as fire chief is raising the Insurance Service Office rating. The fire department received their ISO rating this year and they are ranked as a 3.

"That is in the top eight to nine percentile," he said. "That's just pretty neat."

The rating signifies how well the fire department is working; response time, etc. The last rating was in 2001, before he was chief. He recognizes the new rating shows just how much improvement there has been in the fire department within the past decade.

Some changes he's seen in his time as chief are the water-system improvements, which helps them put out fire faster and more efficiently. There is a new training facility for the fire department which helps, he said. They have better training capabilities, which helps the firefighters in general, and they have bigger fire engines.

"I can leave here knowing I've left the department a little better than when I got here," Kennedy said. "It just all fit together for me and it's been a good run."

With tears in his eyes, he says he will miss his family, the fire department he's grown to know and love.

"These firefighters are an awesome bunch, the city aught to really appreciate them," he said. "I truly will miss them all. I really will."

 

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