By McKibben Jackinsky
With 30 years experience in firefighting, Jim Dycus, formerly of Atlanta, Ga., has been hired as the new chief for the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Service Area.
“We’re real excited to have him on board,” said Mako Haggerty, a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly who represents the area that includes Anchor Point. “He seems like he’s definitely up for the job and everybody out there seems to welcome him.”
Retired since Sept. 15, 2011, Dycus said he found himself bored and wanting “to get back in it.”
“I started searching for opportunities and this was one I applied for,” he said.
Although a long way from Georgia, Dycus and his wife, Francine, had spent two vacations in Alaska.
“We came up first in 2010 on a cruise of the Inside Passage from Seattle and liked it so much that last summer we came up and did (a tour of) the Interior and then got back on a cruise to Vancouver,” he said.
Dycus put his name in the hat when he discovered the Anchor Point opening.
He interviewed and was offered the position in October, but chose to remain with family for the holidays, reporting for work in his new office at the Anchor Point fire station Jan. 6.
For now, his wife will remain in Georgia, where she works as a dental hygienist. The couple has two grown children: a son who is a firefighter in Georgia and a daughter who is a student at North Georgia College. They also have a 1-year-old grandson.
Dycus said he could remember clearly what inspired him to become a firefighter.
“My parents’ house burned down when I was 14 years old. That’s what kicked it off,” he said. “The firefighters came, but there was significant damage and I remember watching them do what they do and that’s what set my path to want to do it, too.”
He began his career in 1981 at Station 1 in downtown Atlanta and had one word to describe that experience: busy. Working with a high-rise rescue team, Dycus was promoted to driver and then to the rank of lieutenant. An advancement to captain took him from Station 1 to Station 2 on Atlanta’s southeast side, where the action was even more intense, with a 110-foot aerial ladder and a crew of 10 men that worked for him.
“That’s one of the busiest companies in Atlanta,” he said.
During 17 years as captain, Dycus also filled in as battalion chief as needed, a position that was over a half dozen stations and 40 people.
“Our stations weren’t spread out like this,” he said. “There, there’s a three- to five-minute response time. If you couldn’t get to an area in three to five minutes, they built a new station to make sure someone could get there in that time frame. There are no stations that have distances like we have here (in Anchor Point).”
Hearing Dycus describe his three decade-long career, it is easy to understand why he might find retirement boring.
“I was missing being in a fire department,” said Dycus, who is trained as a firefighter and an emergency medical technician. “I looked around for something I thought would fit. I’ve spent time in big cities, but decided if I did it again I wanted it to be in the community in which I lived.”
In February, a paramedic from Georgia and a firefighting training chief from Alabama will join Dycus as a 90-day transition team.
“A transition team is something you usually have when a new chief comes in, to help him get up to speed a whole lot quicker,” said Dycus. “I wanted someone coming in from outside with no knowledge (of Anchor Point) so they can have fresh ideas about what the department is and what it needs to be.”
For now, Dycus said it is clear what Anchor Point’s biggest need is: volunteers to serve in the Anchor Point area, as well as at the service area’s Nikolaevsk station. There are currently 33 volunteers on the list and Anchor Point has three paid positions including the chief, who is supervised by the director of the borough’s Office of Emergency Management, a part-time administrative position and a third position that is currently unfilled.
“That’s one of the things the transition team is going to help me do, determine what that paid position should be,” said Dycus.
Currently, Dycus is putting in 12-hour days while he becomes acquainted with his new role and the area.
“I’ve got my hands full right now,” he said. “I’m just glad to be here. I hope I can make a difference. A positive difference.”
Haggerty also is glad to have Dycus on board.
“We’re all very excited to have him and are throwing all of our support behind him,” said Haggerty. “He’s got a real decent manner and a lot of experience. I think this is a very good thing.”
For more information about volunteering with the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Service Area, call 235-6700 or stop by the fire station on Milo Fritz Avenue.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.