Public service brings decorated firefighter back to his roots
When Basehor resident Jim Dickey arrived as a new member of the community four years ago, he couldn't wait to join the Fairmount Township Fire Department. He had to, though.
Fire department prospects are required to live in the township for at least a year before joining. Dickey's year was spent with ears perched listening for fire sirens.
"I was like an old fire horse -- I ran to the window to see what was going on anytime I heard sirens," Dickey said.
Now, during fires, instead of bolting to the window Dickey heads toward them. Colleagues named the three-year Fairmount Township veteran as fireman of the year at Sunday's Police and Fireman Appreciation Banquet.
"I didn't have a clue," Dickey said. "I had no idea whatsoever. Winning was the furthest thing from my mind. There's a lot of good people in this department and it was an honor they selected me. I really appreciate the fact they chose me."
Dickey, who's retired, said working in public service is a return to his roots. His parents retired from the Kansas City, Kan., police department and Dickey worked for six years as a law enforcement officer in Jackson County and Independence, Mo., before moving into the private sector.
When Dickey and his family moved to Basehor from Lawrence, he learned of volunteer opportunities with Fairmount Township.
"When I found out it was a volunteer fire department, it kind of took me back to where I began," he said. "I grew up with (public service)."
Mark Linville, a spokesman for the fire department, said Dickey has been welcomed by the department and has accomplished much in a short time.
"When we have something that needs done, Jim will take it on," Linville said. "That's just the way he is."
Dickey has spearheaded efforts to establish the firefighter's relief fund, which provides insurance and retirement annuities, and has also donated time to the fire station renovation project, in addition to answering an increasing number of fire calls, Linville said.
"For a short-timer, he's done quite a bit," Linville said.