As Fire Chief of the Eagle Lake Fire Department, Chris Libbey has worn many hats that range from 911 first responder to AAA mechanic to game warden to plumber to veterinarian to mover.
But he does have one big regret in life- he’s never worn the hat of a soldier. In fact, it’s that regret that helped put him in his current position.
“I never joined the military. I regret that a lot. I wish I would’ve served in the Armed Forces. That’s really why I do what I do. I didn’t get to serve our country, so I try to do all I can to serve my community,” he said.
When Libbey retired from International Paper in 2015, he wasn’t sure he knew what to do with his “free” time. He credits his dear friend Amy Skinner Libbey for encouraging him to join the fire department.
Serving in Eagle Lake was a natural choice as he is a long-time resident and is very close to other lake residents. In fact, it’s that camaraderie that earned him so many hats.
Libbey recalled instances of being woken in the middle for the night to pull a car out of a ditch or an atv out of mud. While we were speaking, a lake resident called in need of help moving furniture.
Libbey’s favorite hat is the one of chief. It was given to him by Earl Wallace, former Eagle Lake Fire Chief.
“I learned a lot from Earl Wallace and Bill Parker. I hate to name names because I’ve learned and grown with the help of so many people all over Vicksburg and Warren County. Jerry Briggs with Culkin has been someone I can look up to. Martin Pace and all of the deputies are great influences. I hate to leave anyone out, but there are so many,” Libbey said.
Libbey enjoys his job, or rather jobs, and doesn’t want to be doing anything else. However, there is one part of the job that he’d like to never have to do again- hearing the anguished cries of a mother when she learns she’s lost a child.
Libbey said, “Those cries aren’t like any other cry. It doesn’t matter if it’s a baby or an adult, when a mother grieves it’s a sound you can shake off or get out of your head.”
I suppose we can add grief counselor and preacher to the list of hats.
When asked what keeps him motivated, he said, “Every time I respond to a call, when I pull up on a scene or a person in need of my assistance, I open my truck door and take a deep breath. Then I ask the Lord to protect us all before my foot touches the ground.”