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.
First, visit the Kootenai County Emergency Notification System for Citizens page. This is a free citizen voice and text alert notification service used to contact you during urgent or emergency situations with useful information and updates by sending voice, text or email messages to you. This is for local emergency notifications like an evacuation, school lock down, public health event, etc.
House number signs may be purchased for only $15 through the HLFD.
Will the fire department, ambulance or sheriff be able to find your house when you need them? Precious time is often lost trying to find the right address. The numbers are small or they might be large enough but, because of color or placement, are hard to see—especially if it is dark, foggy or bad weather.
So that we can find you in an emergency, your address needs to be visible from the street (where your driveway meets the street, if not on the house itself) and if there is more than one home on the driveway, all should be clearly marked. It is wise to have a friend drive by your home at normal speed on a dark night when visibility is bad and tell you what your address is. This exercise can reveal if you need to change something.
To make it easy for homeowners, the Hauser Lake Volunteer Fire Department offers blue address signs, visible throughout the community, at cost—only $15.00 each. The signs are two-sided with 4-inch reflective numbers on a blue reflective background. Call the fire station at 773-1174 to order.
(An added bonus of having a well marked address is that UPS and FedEx can find you to deliver packages too!)
Keeping weeds cut during the spring and summer and shoveling the snow around hydrants during the winter season helps us find and use the fire hydrants when they are needed.
Remember to keep chimneys clean and your smoke detectors working. In the event of a power outage do not run open flame or catalytic heaters without making sure that there is plenty of ventilation. Electric heaters are a safer alternative indoors. If you need assistance changing smoke detector batteries, we will be more than happy to help out.
Remember that smoke detectors should be completely replaced after ten years.
CountyOffice.org – database of county government offices in the United States. Locate your county assessor, board of elections, chamber of commerce, child support offices, colleges, coroner, courts, and more. (This site was recommended by a member of the public as a one-stop location to find government entities.)
This beautiful cast bronze bell serves as an ongoing symbol of the District’s commitment to voluntary community service.
The HLVFD now proudly displays the beautiful cast bronze bell which serves as an ongoing symbol of the District’s commitment to voluntary community service. It is rung to mark the beginning and end of ceremonies, meetings and other events.
Credits: The bell was purchased with funds from the HLFPD and HLFD Auxiliary. The District is grateful to retired Engineer Ken Birge for the idea and preliminary research. He and retired Captain Scott Weston built the hickory frame housing the bell. The pull is knotted and tied by Chief Larry Simms. The cloth cover (not shown) was made by Auxiliary member Rita Birge.
The District thanks Chips and Sparks Creations of Harpster, Idaho for the engraving.
The Hauser Lake Fire Department was organized in 1952 by residents within the community to provide some means of fire protection for the area.
By Chief Larry Simms
The Hauser Lake Fire Department was organized in 1952 by residents within the community to provide some means of fire protection for the area. The first fire station was a 20- by 14-foot brick building with an oil stove to keep water from freezing inside the station.
The department’s first truck was a 1934 Chevrolet truck with a 500-gallon tank and a small pump on the back. We still own that fire truck and it is displayed in area parades.
The original fire station was hit by a car, which made it unusable so a new pole building was built to serve as the fire station. Part of the project included a community room for groups like the Boy Scouts, 4-H and others to use. That building has had two additions since then to accommodate our growing needs.
In 1975 the Hauser Lake Fire Protection District was officially chartered as a taxing fire district by the state of Idaho. Our District covers approximately 20 square miles of a combination of residential, commercial and urban interface (forest land).
In the years since that first fire truck, we have purchased several vehicles and converted them to the fire service. We have had used utility and ex-military trucks that have been surplused by various government agencies and then modified by our members for use as fire trucks.
The first “true” fire engine we obtained was a 1952 American LaFrance pumper purchased by the Mobbs family and, after three tries, was eventually bought by the fire district. Our current fleet now consists of a 2009 type II ambulance used for medical calls; a 1966 military chassis converted to supply 2000 gal water with a pump; a 2009 Pumper/Tender; a 2001 compressed air foam brush truck; a 2006 Spartan pumper, purchased with a $245,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security; a 1998 support vehilce; a fire boat obtained through cooperation with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department; and a 2001 command vehicle.
We currently respond to an average of 175 to 200 emergency calls per year providing emergency medical services, fire suppression, fire prevention, education, inspections, rescue and mutual aid to other departments in the county. Members of our department also participate in countywide emergency planning, coordination and response in the event of a major emergency.
Over the years the Hauser Lake Fire Protection District has been a leader in Kootenai County emergency services. For example, among our members we have one of the original ice rescue trainers in the state, Gary Mobbs, who is also a member of the sheriff dive rescue team. Also, the Neils family manufactures one of the leading gas powered ventilation fans used in firefighting and has several family members involved in the department. Many of our volunteers are leaders in their industries as well as providing training to other firefighters throughout the state.
Our volunteers have helped us to provide a professional service to the community at a very economical cost. In addition we have received over $1,500,000 in grants, for our department and the county, since 2000, helping to keep the tax burden to our residents as low as possible while providing a level of protection equivalent to communities many times our size in both population and budgets.
By KEITH ERICKSON, Staff writer
Copyright Coeur d’Alene Press (2001)
HAUSER – Gary Mobbs has spent the past 23 years unselfishly helping the victims of structure fires automobile accidents and other unexpected disasters. The volunteer firefighter, a captain with the Hauser Lake Fire Department, has seen more than his share of tragedy. But nothing compares with the loss he experienced 16 years ago. Mobbs endured, without doubt, a father’s worst nightmare.
After a courageous battle with cancer, his little girl, Shalena, died in 1985. Mobbs still sheds tears when he recalls the final anguishing days of his daughter’s life as she slowly succumbed to cancer and the potent doses of chemotherapy and radiation used to rid her little body of the horrific disease.
Even though Shalena lost her battle, her name lives on with an Annual Breakfast With Santa at the Hauser Lake volunteer fire station. Later this month, a 6-year-old Post Falls boy with cancer will benefit from the annual fund-raiser. Like 15 other children before him, Brett will receive thousands of dollars to help pay surging medical bills. Mobbs and the department’s 17 volunteers spend months preparing for the annual breakfast, which this year is expected to attract more than 1,000 people.
When he’s not preparing for the breakfast fund-raiser, Mobbs is busy ordering equipment for the fire station, training, testing various firefighting apparatuses and spending up to three nights a week at the fire station doing various officers’ duties.
And that’s in his “spare” time. Mobbs has a full-time job as a plant supervisor with a chemical fertilizer operation in State Line, a job he’s held for 22 years. But his heart will always be with the department.
“I’m really proud of this department, because I feel that I’m a piece of this puzzle that’s helped get it where it’s at,” he said. His later father and brother also were volunteers with the department. “It’s definitely not by myself, there’s a group of extremely dedicated individuals that put a lot of time in here.”
Shalena must have been a very special little girl. What was she like?
Of course, she was an angel to me. Blond hair, blue eyes, very intelligent. At two-years-old, she was talking in full sentences. I’m really honored for this breakfast to continue in her name. I got a phone call from California a couple weeks ago and they are starting a Shalena’s Breakfast With Santa Clause in Lemoore, Calif. and will be sponsoring a little girl with leukemia. My goal is to hopefully to see this breakfast go across the nation. I had some real good encouragement last year from some e-mails that I received from the East Coast. We’re starting a site on the Hauser Lake Fire Department’s Internet site to explain our breakfast.
How did you come up with the idea to start an annual Breakfast in Shalena’s memory?
Actually, I wasn’t involved with the very first one. Matter of fact, I didn’t know anything about it until it happened. Firefighters at that time and friends knew what kind of stress we were in financially so they threw a breakfast together. Maybe 100 people showed up at the first one. The next year came along and I was involved at that time and we realized what an awesome idea it was. So we thought, why don’t we start doing (an annual breakfast) for every family and it started snow-balling from there.
The children who benefit from Breakfast With Santa have been diagnosed with serious, sometimes terminal diseases. Are these courageous children and their families able to attend the breakfasts?
It all depends on where the child is in his or her treatment. Some of the kids are able to come. We had a little girl from Lewiston a few years ago named Brittany. We got to be really close friends with that family. I try, unfortunately, not to get too close to the families because I have to re-live my experiences. (Wiping his eyes) it strikes a nerve. Brittany has been fine. She’s been cancer free for a couple years. Not all of our kids have made it. Some of them have. There’s been three or four of them who come back to our breakfasts every year and they’re so grateful. Most of the time I have to convince them (families) this is a good thing to be involved in. We all have our pride, but I haven’t had a family yet that I couldn’t talk into it because I’ve been there, done that. I know what they’re feeling.
Does make it easier on the families that you are able to share your experiences?
Yes. Here comes the emotional part. It was so hard to sit there, lie there beside Shalena in bed at Deaconess (Medical Center) while she was barfing her guts out until there was nothing left. Seeing all the stuff she went through was really hard. Saying goodbye, nothing ever gets as hard as that…
What is your role in the breakfast?
It’s kind of changed in the past couple years. I used to spend more time in the kitchen, making sure the system was running. Now I spend more time in front. But I have to be real careful because I know so many people …people want to stop and talk. Sometimes I’ll come out and see if anybody needs something and 20 minutes later I get back in the kitchen and they say, Oh where the hell have you been? (laughs).
What goes into the preparation?
It started two months ago. Dividing responsibilities, I don’t think anybody’s ever said no to helping out. This event has gotten so big, we’ve been able to save and buy our own grills, we own five now. We used to have to go out and borrow them. So we’re slowly purchasing our own stuff. We borrow tables from the Post Falls Fire Department and Lions Club. So preparing, everybody’s got their own jobs.
This community event has grown from about 100 people in the first year to over 1,000. What do you attribute the success to?
I think word of mouth helps a lot. Media involvement has helped a lot, I’ve contacted 30 radio, TV and newspapers and all of them have been positive and that helps. A lot of people know about our breakfast and are willing to come out and spend a Sunday morning out here. Before church, after church, instead of church. Some people are here just to have breakfast. Some are here to help a family whose child has cancer. I got an e-mail last year from somebody who said we don’t charge enough. We charge $3 per plate or $10 per family. It’s been the same for 15 years. I explain that the people who can afford it usually donate a little bit more, the ones that can’t don’t. We’ve had $100 plates. But we don’t want to focus that we’re making money, money, money. That’s not what this is about. It’s a community event, everybody from Hauser Lake ends up being here. The people that don’t have a lot of money can feel involved to.
Even though Shalena lost her battle with cancer, her name lives on with this breakfast. What do you enjoy most about helping other children in her memory?
Their eyes. Looking into their eyes. (Sighs) You struck another nerve. Especially … I see Brittany a lot, at least three times a year. Seeing her live on; seeing her smile; seeing her run around; seeing her being ornery. I like to look into kids’ eyes and see happiness, getting back to that warm and fuzzy feeling. I like to see these kids when they’re able to come back. Unfortunately, we lose some of them. There’s four or five of them that come back and it’s a warm feeling inside to see that some of them have made it.
Christmas is a time for family, faith and joy. How are these aspects exemplified at Breakfast With Santa?
People get so caught up in presents and stuff, but you’ve got to remember what the day is all about. I think it brings the community together and you get to see the kids sit on Santa’s lap, seeing happy thoughts and smiles.
Each year, I see all these volunteer Hauser Lake firefighters frying bacon, flipping pancakes, serving biscuits and gravy and pouring coffee. What motivates them?
I think the cause motivates us. What are we really doing here? We’re helping somebody. In our case, sometimes we’re helping a whole family. And I just think people deep down in their hearts are givers.
This is the 16th year you’ve held Breakfast With Santa. Do you see any end in sight?
On the contrary, I really see us expanding. I woke up at 5:30 this morning thinking OK, how can we get more people. How can we expand this thing. When I saw the interest on the Internet, it was like turning the light switch on. Let’s get out there and reach people. We’ve received donations from California, $100 from people we don’t even know. They just hear about the Breakfast With Santa Claus and donate to it. They mail us a check with a little note to it. One said, “You guys are doing an awesome job, praise the Lord for people like you.” But people focus it toward me, which bothers me a little bit because I’m one person out of 17 firemen and an auxiliary of seven women who make this a success. I’m only one piece of this puzzle. I’m the vocal piece, but I like to see the people look at the department as a whole. I would love to see this thing starting in fire departments across the United States.