Parting Words from a Volunteer Firefighter

Marc Kalbaugh holds the shadowbox given to him as a gift from the HLFPD upon retirement.

Marc Kalbaugh retired from the Hauser Lake Volunteer Fire Department in 2019. In a brief speech given at the annual appreciation banquet in March, he shared what being a volunteer has meant to him. Perhaps Marc’s words will help others who are considering volunteering–not just as a firefighter but in any capacity — take the plunge and serve. The following is a transcript of Marc’s speech.

I would like to thank the commissioners, past and present, for all their support throughout the years and for what they do to keep this Department moving forward and outfitted. To the members, we have had some good times but change is hard and for me I must step away. It has taken some time for me to come to this decision and it’s hard for me to make it. To the Auxiliary, some folks say you join the fire department to fight fire, I think I joined because at 3 o’clock in the morning being handed a sandwich, beef jerky, and a beverage means so much.

It has been said that “unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of our souls.” (~David Thomas, as quoted in Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts, 1891). If you’re looking for a reason to volunteer, for anything, no matter what it is, or for how long, think of the impacts you’ll have on yourself and the people you serve for and with.

Years from now, my fleeting memories will be filled with the experiences that had the greatest impacts on my life. I will look back at my time in the fire service and smile knowing that my service was meaningful. It really has been my honor to serve with all of you and to serve this community.

Though my time has come to an end, let’s not forget why we are here tonight: remembering and celebrating all of you for all that you do in service to this community. From the commissioners to our members’ husbands and wives, the dedication each and every one of you has to this Department, community, and the people you all help every day is truly commendable. Essentially working 24/7, 365 days a year, means sleepless nights and missed meals, taking time away from your own families and their needs to meet the needs of others.

As a fellow firefighter and now as a citizen and member of this community, I would like to take this opportunity to say, thank you for what you do.

To my brothers and sisters who put the wet stuff on the red stuff, I would like to leave you with this from the History of the World’s Greatest Fires: In Greek Mythology, Prometheus was a titan trickster who was said to have defied the gods by giving man fire. The Gods were incensed and Prometheus was sentenced to be bound to a rock to eternal torment for his transgression where each day an eagle would feast on his liver only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day. Just think, “If Prometheus is worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the gods to honor the men/women who make it their professional business to put it out!” (~John G. Saxe, quoted in George C. Hale, History of the World’s Greatest Fires, 1905)

It has truly been my honor, Thank You.

Marc Kalbaugh served with the Hauser Lake Fire Department from 2008 to 2019.

Author: Hauser Lake FPD

Fire protection district in Hauser, Idaho.