Listen to this story;
Kodiak’s fire hall was packed last Friday evening, as friends and colleagues from around the community filed into the south side of the aging building. A tremendous potluck was taking place in honor of Fire Chief Jim Mullican’s last day in the service.
Dave Davis is the chaplain for the city and Bayside fire departments. He was there decades ago when Mullican started volunteering for the fire department during a long career with the Coast Guard.
“It’s been pretty incredible. Just to watch somebody’s career. Go from a beginning to the chief. Now he’s a retired Chief. That’s pretty cool,” Davis said.
Before guests dove into the food, there was time set aside for speeches, reminiscing on the good days and the bad days of working as a firefighter, and honoring Mullican’s achievements. Then the Kodiak fire dispatcher came onto the fire hall’s speaker system, to give a traditional salute to those retiring out of the fire department.
“Your Kodiak fire family would like to thank you and thank you for being a role model, for being an instructor, for the many late nights, for investing in all of us, for the endless support and for being someone we look up to. Your hard work has not been unseen or unnoticed. We hope you enjoy exploring the outdoors and working on your toys in the garage. You deserve it. Thank you Chief Mullican for everything you have done,” the dispatcher said.
Mullican himself is very emotional at the event. He says he’s going to miss the kind of bonds that form between first responders.
“When you go out, you have to rely on each other continually, both on the grounds dealing with the fire, dealing with whatever it is to get the job done. And then on the backside, the emotional side of just processing and dealing with what you saw, what you heard, what you smelled- that kind of thing,” Mullican said.
When asked how he’ll adapt to life that isn’t on call 24/7/365, Mullican says it’ll take some adjustment. He offers a story from a cruise vacation a few years ago.
“So we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean going to the Hawaiian Islands. And we’re having a nice romantic dinner. We’re in the middle of the ocean. And a person behind me had their cell phone and tone went off on the cell phone that mimics the fire tone that goes across the station when we have a structure fire. And I literally got up, dropped my fork and started walking away from the table on the cruise ship. And she’s like, where are you going? And I stopped for a second. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s right,’” Mullican said.
In retirement, Mullican says he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, as well as his children and grandchildren. He is a bit of a motorhead, and anticipates spending a fair bit of time in his garage. He and his wife Judy moved to Wasilla the day after the ceremony.