By Julie Wiessner
Veteran fireman Cary Simpson was elected chief of the Holbrook Volunteer Fire Department following the resignation of Alex Baker.
Simpson spent the last 15 years on the department as a hose man, engineer, captain and assistant chief. “The Holbrook firemen are brothers to me, and have one of the finest reputations around the state of Arizona,” said the new chief.
Simpson began his history with the HVFD in 1967 when his dad, George Simpson, joined the fire department. He spent weekends observing, playing and learning at what is now Station 4. He was fascinated with the equipment, the gear, and the way each fireman looked out for the other’s safety in this dangerous occupation. But mostly, Simpson said, “I liked being with my dad, my dad liked being around the brotherhood of firemen. I could sense the camaraderie, and I liked it, too.”
He learned many safety procedures from his dad, and today his number one concern and goal is safety.
George served with the department 25 years and was fire chief for 12 years, the longest consecutive term as chief since the department’s inception. George was instrumental in building Station 3 and the training grounds that are now used by the department.
Simpson’s uncle on his mother’s side, Victor “Sonny” Gerwitz, was the first member of his family to join the HVFD.
Outlining the duties of a fire chief, Simpson noted, “He is the guy in charge and responsible for the safety of all the men on the fire department; he must make sure that everything runs smoothly. The fire chief is also under the direction of the city council; they can remove him/her at any time with a letter.”
The HVFD includes “three companies with 30 firemen at the moment,” said Simpson. “There are four auxiliary firemen, who have not yet been certified. However, we do conduct a training once a month and have our own instructor, so we can train them up very well. We are hoping to have these four finish their training and become certified very soon.”
Even so, he is looking for some more good people who would like to join the fire department. “We will get those who want to become firemen trained and certified, as well. Training is one of the things we do best, he commented.
“We are in the process of obtaining a new fire pumper and hope to take delivery before the year’s end. We hope to host several trainings along with other departments in order to comport our skills and safety, and have a continued focus to stay safe and be smart. The team will continue working on a new station downtown,” said Simpson.
He is also planning a muster in the spring, and will invite the public to watch the members of the HVFD and their brother departments compete in some of the skills they use to fight fires.
By Julie Wiessner