By Nina Crowder
Copper Area News Publishers
The Mammoth Fire District was founded in 1950. If the members of the community didn’t care and remain dedicated the Fire District wouldn’t be here today.
Copper Area News Publishers met with five members of the Mammoth Fire District who were available. Each and every one of them show concern for their fellow man and would do anything in their power to help an individual in need. The Fire District isn’t just about putting out fires it is any type of emergency situation day or night including calls for rattlesnakes, car accidents, falls or accidents in the home or any emergency. Fire Department Members are offered and provided training: Fire Fighter 101/102, Emergency Medical Technicians and Emergency Medical Services.
Marty Ponce became Chief of the Mammoth Fire District August 2013; prior to this date Marty had been with the volunteer fire department for about eight years.
“Volunteerism is something I can give back to the community,” he said. “It takes a unique individual, someone who is willing to dedicate his time, showing up for meetings/drills on their own without someone to harp on them and wanting to help others. When people in the community are in dire situations you are there to help, to comfort, help distract the troubled minds of others and to care.”
The drills help prepare members for fire or any other situation they may be inclined to come across.
“You can never be prepared for every situation continually going over what may be expected at a scene or incident by going through the drills hopefully everything clicks when you need it to,” he explained.
Monica Hernandez has been with the Mammoth Volunteer Fire District since February 2013. She is always ready to learn, even if the material seems repetitive.
“What may seem repetitive to some of the other members who are familiar from past experience, to the newer members it is exciting and the opportunity to learn something new,” she said.
Monica is a mother of two children ages 18 months and 4 years and a wife to a police officer. Monica has a very caring nature and even as busy as she is with her life she has made the time to give back to the community of Mammoth.
“My first encounter with the Fire Department was last year when I got bit by a rattlesnake and Marty Ponce and Shannon Dominguez came to help me,” Monica said. “I am so glad they did!”
Monica had moved here from Tucson and her husband informed her of an opening at the Fire Department she felt that this was something she would enjoy doing because she loves to help others. Nine months later and Monica is still at it and enjoying herself.
Rick Sanchez, another volunteer, said, “The Mammoth Fire District will look at anyone who is interested in joining the Fire District. We want them. We want to make this a big department, a department that people are proud of.”
He explained that there is often negativity associated with volunteers who are often overlooked. “Firefighters, first responders, anyone that is volunteering – sometimes the community looks down on them because the community feels they are not capable,” Rick said, adding strongly, “I’ll stake my life on this fire department.”
Rick has been with this Fire Department for almost a year. He started as the Administrator and now is the Chairman of the Fire Board.
“You can’t be overly prepared,” he said. “Heaven forbid if we were to have a Boston or another disaster where the whole town is on fire. We can’t be bickering saying that’s not my job. We need to help each other and how do we do that, by being proactive instead of reacting to the negative things.”
In 2012, the Arizona State Legislature mandated that Volunteer Fire Districts have a Board of Directors. Sanchez was approached to run for the Board and decided he would pursue this. Little did he know he would be appointed Administrator of the Fire Department. It has been a good learning experience and Rick considers each member like a member of his family.
“Everyone needs to be trained if equipment is needed we need to find a way to purchase it, I don’t want anyone hurt,” Rick said.
Technology has also come a long way. The Fire Marshall can actually come into a scene and pinpoint where a fire was started with the technology of today imaging machines.
Juan Ponce was Captain of Mammoth Fire District in the mid 1960s. Since he came to Mammoth, Juan said, he noticed the need for volunteerism and has tried to continue in many areas of his life. Juan has spent 15 years as a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts, has been with the Lions Club for many years and anything else he can do in the community. “Marty forgot to mention that he is an Eagle Scout and I am very proud of that,” Juan said. Regarding volunteerism Juan said, “It is self satisfaction and you get to keep that in here (pointing to his heart).”
All the members present agreed with Juan.
“I’ll tell you what,” another volunteer Al Anaya said. “Other than having the Police Department here, the Fire Department is one of the best things a small town like Mammoth can have. They have been to my house before for me and they did a great job of taking care of me, the response time was very quick which is a good thing since unlike San Manuel we do not have an ambulance service.” Al is hopeful some of the younger generation in the area will feel the desire to give back to the community and want to help by volunteering some of their time to the Mammoth Fire Department, he as well as others would like to see some of the younger generations participating.
During the interview with this group of people Jerry from the Knights of Columbus dropped by an award and presented it to Chief Marty Ponce for all the Mammoth Fire Department’s hard work and dedication.
The overall feeling from this wonderful group of giving, caring people is volunteerism is all about helping people and not expecting someone to come up and give you a pat on the back saying good job. It’s not to be on the news or be recognized. It is something that you yourself take pride and respect in, you feeling good about what you are able to give back to your community. Being respected in the community and the surrounding communities is important to this Fire Department especially because respect is something that has to be earned it is not just given out freely.
Every Monday at 6 p.m. the Mammoth Fire District holds their drills/meetings. If anyone is interested in volunteering, they are welcome to stop by and pick up an application. Men and women are encouraged to apply. The Mammoth Fire District is located at 114 East Copper Street, Mammoth, AZ or call 520-487-2050.