Pond received a plaque recognizing his volunteer service from May 22, 1997 to Feb. 1 of this year
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Volunteer firefighter Mike Pond has served the City of Liberal for 14 years. In February, he gracefully stepped down. Pond was recognized for his service by Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk Tuesday evening in front of a packed house at the regularly scheduled city commission meeting.
Kirk explained just the type of individual a volunteer firefighter is, a description, he said, that fit Pond perfectly.
“I am standing before you tonight to publically recognize and honor firefighter Mike Pond,” Kirk said to the commission and audience. “Mike made a difficult and, I’m sure, emotional decision to step away after 14 years of service with the fire department – he has been a volunteer firefighter for us for that long. We, as a department, represent the city, and we wish to recognize his dedication and sacrifice.
“In all this time in fire service, I have come to believe that it takes an extraordinary type of person to be a volunteer firefighter,” he explained. “They have to have the genuine desire and the willingness to serve and sacrifice. They have to have unquestionable integrity and character. They have to be driven, motivated, willing to sacrifice – these are the guys that when the pager goes off in the middle of the night, they hear the wind howling outside and they know it is below freezing out there, but they are the ones that still get up and answer the call knowing that they may be out there all night and still have to go to their primary jobs for a full day of work the next day.”
Kirk said volunteer firefighters are a special breed, and due to their dedication, earn the respect of those around them simply by doing their job.
“They continually prove themselves time and time again through performance in areas of great strengths and great pressures and earn the respect of their peers and the public they serve,” he said. “These firefighters do things that ordinary people will never do, they see things that people should never have to see and they go places that reasonable people probably wouldn’t go – and do it all in service to the community as a volunteer firefighter.”
Specifically, Kirk said, Pond has been an example of what a volunteer firefighter should be – and has greatly appreciated his service.
“Mike Pond is all these things that I have mentioned here,” he said. “I am certain he can’t remember the number of times in the last 14 years that he has walked away from family gatherings, got up in the middle of the night – cold and thunderstorms – whatever it took. He served us in all manner of personal trials and triumphs and in the end, he truly earned my respect and admiration.”
Kirk then presented Pond with a plaque recognizing his volunteer service with the Liberal Fire Department from May 22, 1997 to Feb. 1 of this year.
Pond thanked those who aided him in a successful career as a volunteer firefighter.
“I would like to say thank you to Chief Kelly and I would have to add in Mr. Jim Fisher, who is retired, and Jack Taylor Jr. – they all believed in me as a volunteer,” he said. “It doesn’t seem that long, but when I first moved here, I spent 14 years with Kids Inc. When my kids got older and went on to college, I was lost after I kind of got away from Kids Inc. Then a friend of mine said the fire department needed some volunteers. Through my company, I had taken a lot of firefighting classes in the oilfield. So, I thought if they needed help, I would help them. So, that is where I have been for the last 14 years.”
Pond said age and typical things that come along with it have encouraged him to step away from his duties as a volunteer firefighter.
“As I get older, I kind of have a little bit of arthritis going on and don’t want to put any of my fellow brothers at risk,” he said. “So, I just want to bow out safely and not put anyone at risk.
“I have enjoyed the 14 years and will now look for something else to do as a volunteer for the community,” he concluded. “Thank you very much, thank you.”