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Name:      Mark R. Barker

Education:       Music Education and Fire Science

Family:        Wife, Jayne      Children: Ernie and Emily

Current Occupation:       Retired Firefighter, Currently Chief Helicopter Pilot for Tanalian Aviation

How many years were you with the University of Alaska Fire Department?

5 years;  Entered UAFD in 1975, left to become the Bethel Fire Chief in May 1980

What is your favorite memory, story, experience, etc. while at the University Fire Department?

How do you describe a lifetime of memories all compressed into 5 years?

 It was my pleasure to serve first under Chief Buck Whitaker and then under Chief Shechter; and of course Assistant Chiefs Leary and Million. I was there during the initial transition to “the district”, when a contract was signed to provide fire and ems services to the surrounding University areas. Up to that point we would attempt to respond elsewhere; and did. We responded on medic calls as far as Nenana and fire calls across the Fairbanks area. Utilizing old Engine 1 and Engine 2, which both were governed to a slow speed to protect the young “student drivers” we would often respond on calls with full lights and siren, and experienced cars pulling out to pass us since we were driving so slow.

Individual memories include various groups of us cruising the underground Utili-doors across campus; beating the Macintosh “jocks” during winter carnival; making fiberglass kayaks in the truck bay; filling up the entire Sunday morning kayak class with just firefighters; sour-dough pan cake breakfasts; dealing with the pig Chief Shechter had shot in his driveway; late night road trips to Anchorage; and of course the numerous stories, myths, and fables regarding the Tradition Stone. We had the Stone, it was ours, and I was there, so I know the real story!

And of course numerous medic and fire calls with some of the best people I have ever worked with. Who would have known at that time, that those same people would continue to be, throughout my life, some of my very closest friends. We might not see each other over long expanses of time, but we always know where each other is. And when we do get together, the memories and friendships are back with us, as strong as in the past. 

Brief History/Biography:

My parents were school teachers in Bethel, so grew up there, was a cadet firefighter in high school and selected UAF with hopes of getting in the fire department. I joined UAFD in 1975 and was there until 1980. After leaving college I was hired as the Fire Chief in Bethel, Alaska was there until 1992. In November of 1992 I was hired by the Alaska State Fire Marshals Office as the Supervisor of Fire Service Training. In that position I was responsible for training and certification of firefighters and emergency responders in the fire service across the State of Alaska. I retired from Fire Service Training in 2005 and was hired by the Anchorage Fire Department Training Division and stayed in the Battalion Chief position until spring of 2007. I was then hired by a helicopter company in Anchorage as their Chief Pilot. And like a lot of us “older retired” guys started my second career. I still have strong connections through out the Alaska Fire Service and am a Certifying Officer for the Fire Standards Council and also am the Chairman of the Alaska Fallen Firefighter Memorial Committee. I continue to live in Anchorage along with my family.

Myself and Bill Shechter at his wife’s school.

Jerry Phillips, Mitch Flynn, Todd Sherman, Mike Holzmueller, Mark Barker, Wilson Valentine
Summer 2013