Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

July 8, 2014

Firefighting fills a big role for Kimble

TAHLEQUAH — Community service is both work and volunteering for Cherokee County 911 Coordinator/Director Marty A. Kimble.

Kimble is also fire chief for Gideon Volunteer Fire and Rescue, president of the Grand View School Board, and northeast regional vice president of OklaNENA (National Emergency Number Association).

He credits his parents for bringing him up to volunteer.

“At an early age, I was taught to help others whenever you can; it is just the natural thing to do,” said Kimble. “We are just neighbors helping neighbors.”

For Kimble, volunteering was learned at home.

“My dad was a the fire chief at Greasy Fire Department in Adair County, so I guess I was volunteered to help there, but loved it,” said Kimble. “All of my family has always shown unselfishness. As a matter of fact, if you were selfish in any way, it was frowned upon. Always put others first and the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ were big philosophies as a child.”

In 1987, Kimble moved to Tahlequah to attend college at Northeastern State University, and has called Cherokee County home ever since.

“[Tahlequah has] the beauty, natural resources, [and] small-town feel, but with all the large-city amenities and services,” said Kimble. “But mostly, I appreciate the people of ‘the ‘Quah.’”

He’s been in the fire service since 1988, and with Gideon Fire Department since 1994.

“As chief, I am responsible for all operations of the fire department, including training of firefighters, initial fire investigation, equipment and vehicle acquisition and maintenance, general condition of two fire stations and basic response readiness of the whole fire department,” said Kimble.

Of course, he doesn’t do this all on his own.

“I have help from some very dedicated company officers and volunteer firefighters, or else very little would get accomplished,” he said. “I also have a very supportive board of directors who are all pillars of the community and have very close oversight on me and the business of the fire department.”

He feels they help people out in their time of need.

“We take highly-trained volunteers and place them in harm’s way to mediate whatever emergency they are having, and hopefully, make a better outcome,” he said.

Kimble’s advice to those considering becoming a volunteer firefighter is, “you get out of it what you put into it.”

“This position of being a volunteer firefighter can be as rewarding or as empty as you make it,” he said. “You have to participate, you have to show up for calls, you have to be there when your community needs you; otherwise you won’t get the rewards that it has to offer. Otherwise, you’re just what we call ‘T-shirt models.’”

Kimble hopes to aid in the success of students by serving on the Grand View School Board.

“I feel we help set policies and procedures that direct the school system and administration in a way that will be productive and supportive to all students, giving them the tools to succeed in life, and hopefully be productive members of society,” said Kimble.

Donations are always valued by nonprofit organizations. When Kimble first started at Gideon Fire Department, he would take money out of his pocket to by valves and parts for fire trucks, just to get them running.

“Now we have a small tax base, but we still need funding. Funding will always be an issue due to the high costs of doing business as a fire department, but I believe the most important donation that we need is time,” said Kimble. “Time to volunteer, time to train, time to make board meetings and time to care for your neighbor more than yourself. Because it doesn’t matter how many new fire trucks we have in the station, if we don’t have anyone to drive them or take time away from their families to learn how to operate them or use the ‘jaws of life’ to cut someone out of a vehicle. Time is what we need the most.”

Volunteers Kimble admires set a high standard in the fire service community.

“In the fire service, I have always looked up to retired guys like Bob Adrian and Doc Carroll from Tahlequah Fire Department, and Mitch Parnell from Tulsa Fire Department, but now I look up to guys like Chief Ray Hammons and Assistant Chief Kupsick with Tahlequah Fire Department,” said Kimble.

The volunteer Kimble most admires is his father-in-law, John Ray Halpain.

“He shows the utmost selflessness and dedication without any expectation of gratitude. Chief Hammons calls him ‘old faithful,’” Kimble said. “He is one of the founding board members of Gideon Fire Department and has been with it since the beginning in 1987.”

Qualities important in a volunteer firefighter are selflessness, dedication, morality, and humility.

Kimble prefers to spend free time with his family.

“I love sitting on the porch watching the sun go down with my wife and kids,” he said.

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