By Casey Peacock: Freedom Newspapers
With determination and money from his own pocket, Elton Parkinson set out in 1979 to establish and build a fire department for the Milnesand community.
“We were so far down here we were kind of unprotected,” Parkinson said of the decision to start the department.
Since the inception of the department 28 years ago, others from the department say Parkinson has worked tirelessly to build it.
“He was instrumental in starting the department,” said John Mohon, Milnesand fire chief.
Parkinson was 59 when he started the quest to build the department. He served as fire chief for more than 22 years before handing the reins over to Mohon.
Parkinson recounted he received some negativity about whether he would be able to establish a department from among area residents. Instead of backing down, he says he pushed forward to do what he could.
He went to the Village of Dora and asked if the Milnesand community could borrow an old truck that they had. It took a year before they would loan the truck out, Parkinson said.
Since the truck had been sitting outside, many repairs needed to be made. As a welder, Parkinson was able to make the repairs and with the help of a few other residents, the Milnesand Fire Department was born.
Donations from oil companies allowed the department to hold an auction and raise funds. After a year, the fire department qualified for state funding, Parkinson said.
Parkinson’s dedication was recognized at the EMS III Conference in April at the Ruidoso Convention Center. Parkinson was awarded the “Special Recognition Award.”
“That was real nice, that was kind of a surprise,” Parkinson said of receiving the award.
Today the fire department has two stations (one named in honor of Parkinson), two ambulances and nine fire trucks, Parkinson said.
“He was very instrumental in getting the equipment needed for the area,” Mohon said.
Parkinson said he later helped members of the Arch community establish their department.
According to Mohon, Parkinson earned his EMT-B certification and was instrumental in encouraging other members of the community to go through EMT training, Mohon said.
“Over the years, Chief Parkinson has had an important role in helping over 15 community members receive their training,” Mohon said.
Today Parkinson still responds to fires and drives the ambulance when needed. Though he has not renewed his EMT certification, he just recently renewed his CPR certification, he said.