After 13 years away from the Kenai Peninsula, former Homer News and Peninsula Clarion reporter Doug Loshbaugh is back. This time not as a journalist, however. Loshbaugh is the new assistant chief of the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Service Area.
Loshbaugh served on the Homer Volunteer Fire Department in the early 1990s, the Dillingham Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad from 1995-1996 and was an on-call firefighter-EMT for Central Emergency Services between 1996-2001.
Loshbaugh and his wife Shana moved to Fairbanks after he was hired as the EMS coordinator for Chena-Gold Stream Fire and Rescue, where he was eventually promoted to captain.
“I had been with Chena-Gold Stream long enough and learned what I could learn and do what I could do,” said Loshbaugh. “It was time to take a new step and grow. And we like the peninsula a lot. Shana, particularly, wanted to be here. This brings us back to the old neighborhood and friends.”
Having begun his new assignment the middle of August, Loshbaugh said he anticipates learning a lot from Anchor Point Chief Jim Dycus, who came to Anchor Point from Atlanta, Ga., in January.
“He’s a smart guy, has a lot of years with the Atlanta fire department and has probably seen more fires than I hope to see in my whole career,” said Loshbaugh. “And I really enjoy working with volunteer departments because I think people are there because they really want to help and are dedicated to their community. It’s a good group of people that volunteer for groups like this.”
Being an applicant from Alaska was a plus in Loshbaugh’s favor.
“He came in with a lot of certifications we could put to use right now,” said Dycus. “And he’s from the area and wanted to move back. A lot of people here seemed to know him. So, with him having that, he’s my opposite since I don’t have a lot of that stuff. I think we’ll be able to work well together.”
Having an assistant chief also gives Dycus some backup.
“There’s some flexibility now that I have someone here to do things when I’m away at meetings or out of state on training,” said Dycus.
For now, topping Loshbaugh’s to-do list is becoming familiar with APFES procedures.
“Everyone does things differently. My first mission is to learn how people do things in this department,” he said. “And there are a lot of new roads to learn. Half the battle is figuring out how to get places, so I’m trying to figure out roads and how to get to them.”
As steep as the learning curve may be, Loshbaugh said he wouldn’t miss “having to roll up hose at 50 (degrees) below zero. That’s a definite plus of not having to deal with bitter cold. And in Fairbanks, we actually had firefighting mittens, mittens rated for fire made in Canada. It’s good to leave that behind.”
Loshbaugh’s main mission is to help develop Anchor Point’s ambulance service.
“We’re going to sit down and figure out what’s appropriate for this community, what the volunteers want to work on, what the doctor wants to work on and just basically learn how things are done in Anchor Point,” he said.
Dr. William Cooper of Soldotna is contracted with the Kenai Peninsula Borough to supervise borough-run departments, including Anchor Point.
Recognizing the importance of collaborating with other emergency response personnel on the southern Kenai Peninsula, Loshbaugh said, “Unless you’re a remote village, fire departments don’t stand alone, so I need to learn how to work with all the other departments around Anchor Point.”
In addition to a chief and assistant chief, APFES has about 35 volunteers, a part-time engineer-mechanic and part-time administrative support. There is a station on Milo Fritz Avenue in Anchor Point and a sub-station in Nikolaevsk.
An EMT II class has just finished, and an EMT I class will begin Sept. 9 in conjunction with the Homer Volunteer Fire Department. In January, a Firefighter I class will be offered.
Anyone interested in volunteering with APFES or enrolling in upcoming training can call the fire station at 235-6700.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.