Still on the roster
Roger Hunt has been fighting fire for 60 years
POCAHONTAS — Except for a few antiques in a set of display cabinets, every piece of equipment and gear in the Pocahontas fire station has been put into service during Roger Hunt’s time there.
Hunt is all that’s left of what was in use when he joined.
“It’s all gone,” he said. “I don’t quit, that’s why I’m still here.”
Hunt was recently recognized for 60 years of service.
“I joined in August of 1958,” he said. “I was 25. I’m 85 now.”
In addition to Hunt, several other firefighters were recently honored for their long years of service. They include Roger Hohensee, 40 years, Troy Bindel, 34 years, Jack Gould, 32 years and Jeff Shearer, 26 years.
But back to Hunt: He can’t remember the first call he went on back then, but he does remember his first big fire.
“It was the school bus barn in 1960,” he said. “It was burning pretty good. They lost some of them.”
He does remember the most recent one he went along on.
“It was down by Palmer. It was a house fire,” he said.
Hunt also recalls an incident that fit in the category of the unusual.
“One time we had to rescue a bird,” he said. “The only way to get it down was to spray water on it.”
Once common, barn fires were a source of frequent calls in the past.
“We don’t get a lot of them anymore,” he said.
He’s seen every type of fire and rescue call that can be imagined: silo fires, grain bin fires, accidents, house fires and some of the big ones over the years that he refers to as “Main Street fires.” Those, he said, are big blazes that often destroy several buildings or even an entire block.
“We had them in Rolfe, twice, Havelock, Pocahontas, Palmer and Manson,” he said. “That was a bad one in the middle of winter.”
The gear and training firefighters use has been upgraded considerably since 1958. In those days, firefighters had a helmet and boots and a coat that was little more than a heavy duty rain coat.
He remembers the early breathing apparatus.
“It was a mask and square box,” he said. “That was supposed to filter everything out.”
Did it work?
“I guess,” he said. “It was pretty antiquated, even at that time.”
The Pocahontas Fire Department has 27 members and Hunt is proud of them.
“This is a good bunch,” he said. “They treat me well for an old coot.”
He frequently makes it to their calls.
“I appear, but I don’t participate,” he said.
He said dedication is needed to do the job of a volunteer firefighter well.
“They have that,” he said of his fellow volunteers. “They’re here every time. Both to practice and at the fire.”
He said that anyone thinking about joining needs to consider the long haul.
“It’s good to step up if they’re dedicated,” he said.
The current Pocahontas fire station is located on the west side of town in what was once a service station and automotive repair shop.
When he joined, the fire station was located downtown. Hunt was already familiar with the building, though.
“I worked there when the man built it.”