Volunteer Spotlight: Chief Hicks helps make community safer, more prepared

From left: Dick Groff and Mike Hicks. Hicks has been a dedicated volunteer for CVFD for 30 years. Photo by David Little/for The Cordova Times

Editor’s note: Cordova community events and programs run on volunteers. This is an ongoing series of Volunteer Spotlight Q&As in partnership with the Cordova Chamber of Commerce to honor those who give their time and efforts to better the community.

In addition to being chief of police and the volunteer fire chief, Mike Hicks is dedicated to the community through his career and volunteer work. When he isn’t working or volunteering, he enjoys hunting, fishing and talking to people around the world on HAM radio.

The Cordova Times: How long have you lived in Cordova and where are you from?

Mike Hicks: Originally from Buffalo, New York, I transferred to Cordova from Kodiak in 1989 during the Exxon Valdez oil spill as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard to supervise the Coast Guard Aviation Support Facility.

Mike Hicks, a dedicated volunteer for CVFD for 30 years.Photo by David Little/for The Cordova Times

What do you do in Cordova now and what’s your professional background?

I had previously volunteered as a firefighter in Kodiak and immediately joined the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department. I spent 20 years in Coast Guard Aviation as an aircrewman working and flying on both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. In that role I flew on many search and rescue, marine environmental, and law enforcement missions. Shortly after retirement I began my law enforcement career as a dispatcher with the Cordova Police Department. I went on to become a police officer and left the department after several years to become an Alaska State Trooper and was stationed in Cordova for several years as a wildlife trooper. I returned to the Cordova Police Department in 2014 as the chief of police.

Can you describe some of your volunteer roles?

In addition to the CVFD I have served with various organizations, boards and committees around town including the Moose Lodge and Cordova Family Resource Center.

I have been with CVFD for 30 years now and have been the elected volunteer fire chief for 16 years. Being just a small part of this group of professionals has been an amazing experience. I have had the opportunity to teach and train firefighters, medics and the public. I have been able to help with grant writing teams, which collectively have resulted in awards of millions of dollars in training and equipment. That has helped make the community we serve a safer and more prepared place to live. All of these were truly a team effort!

What have you found most rewarding?

Every member of our team brings something to the table. One of the great things about working with other volunteers is that we come from all walks of life and have our own life experiences and expertise that we can share with each other. The support and dedication of the community and the rest of our team is what makes this organization work. It is often said in this business that we see people on the worst days of their lives. 

One of the most rewarding things for me over the years is that during those dark times, I have seen our team of volunteers at their best. It doesn’t matter if it is the middle of the night or in the worst weather, during an earthquake or a search and rescue — they all show up prepared to face the worst and hoping for the best, while leaving their own homes and their own families to help others. Our department motto is “Any Time, Any Place, Any Need.”  I have seen our members live up to this motto many times.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am very thankful to those around me including my family that I have been allowed to be just a small part of this amazing group of people.

If you’d like to know more information on ways to volunteer in the community contact the Cordova Chamber of Commerce at 907-424-7260 or visit cordovachamber.com/volunteer.

Nominate someone for a future Volunteer Spotlight at spencerjaneb@gmail.com.