By Conrad Dudderar
As a child watching the popular ’70s television show “Emergency,” Kent Long dreamed about someday becoming firefighter.
“From the time I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to be a fireman,” Long said this week. “That’s what I knew I wanted to do. In grade school, I was even voted by my compadres as a junior fire chief.”
Achieving that career goal was set in motion in 1986, when the 18-year-old Long took a job with the City of Yukon. After working several years, Long’s dream became reality in August 1991 when he joined the Yukon Fire Department as a new firefighter.
The long road ended this week when Battalion Chief Long officially retired after 29 years of dedicated service.
Long earned several standing ovations and heard thunderous applause as he fought back tears during a retirement ceremony Jan. 29 at Yukon fire station one.
“I want to thank everybody who’s helped me along the way,” Long said, referring to several mentors. “There’s been a lot of people who have weaved in and out of my life. I truly value your friendship.
“I want to thank my shift. We have had some really, really special times together. And I really appreciate you guys taking care of me. And I hope you know that deep down inside, I’ve always cared about you deeply as well. You’ll never leave my mind or my heart. You guys are second to none.”
The retiring YFD battalion chief cited employees from several City of Yukon departments who attended the Wednesday afternoon ceremony, saying “we all make a great team.”
Many former YFD personnel joined current firefighters, city employees, other city leaders and family members to honor Long during the retirement celebration. Among the attendees were former Yukon Fire Chief Kevin Jones and former battalion chiefs Richard King and Craig Nuckols.
In his retirement speech, Long thanked Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt, Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Trumbly, YFD office coordinator Myra Schmidt, and clerk Hannah Combs.
He also thanked his family for supporting him through the years in his YFD career and his “best friend” – wife Diana – who has “really helped me accomplish a lot.”
“Nothing is possible without her,” Long said.
AN ASSET TO THE YFD
Chief Long has been an “outstanding asset” to Yukon’s fire department for a long time, Chief Vogt said this week
“He’s been a vital part of establishing a lot of things that have been done around here to keep this department moving forward,” Yukon’s fire chief said.
Long’s dedication to customer service is “at the core value of what we do,” Vogt added. “All our guys know that we preach about customer service.”
Yukon’s fire chief thanked Long for his friendship over the years and support he’s provided since Vogt was promoted to lead the department.
“On behalf of the fire department, I want to thank Chief Long for his 29 years of service to our citizens and the department,” Vogt said. “I want to congratulate him on his retirement.”
Vogt presented Long with a plaque demonstrating the YFD’s appreciation for his dedicated service. And, as has become tradition with retiring Yukon fire personnel, Vogt presented Long his battalion chief’s helmet.
Mayor Mike McEachern read a proclamation declaring Jan. 29 as “Kent Long Day” in the City of Yukon.
“Battalion Chief Long has shared his wealth of knowledge and experience by unselfishly giving his personal time and talents to benefit the City of Yukon,” said McEachern, reading from the proclamation.
In the proclamation, the Yukon City Council credits Long for his accomplishments and wishes him the “best of luck in the future.”
Caleb McDoulett has been named to succeed Long as a YFD battalion chief on the red shift. McDoulett has been with the fire department since June 2001.