Ask Mike Harman about the best of part of his job as deputy fire chief with the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department and he does not hesitate.
“For me, it is just interacting with the people, both with the volunteer firefighters and the people I meet [in the community],” Harman said Dec. 7. Hours later, Sidney’s chief administrative officer Randy Humble recognized Harman for his 15 years of service as an employee with the municipality. The town also recognized Matt Youell, crew chief with underground utilities, and gardener Tom Isherwood for 10 years of employment.
Harman first joined the municipality as an auxiliary employee at the age of 25 in 2003. His job became permanent in 2005 working for the public works department. In 2015, he became the deputy chief of the fire department after having first joined as a volunteer in 1998. As deputy chief, Harman heads the training and prevention division while functioning as deputy emergency management coordinator.
But these coordinates of Harman’s resumé hardly capture his contributions to the community.
Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen said Harman’s level of dedication and commitment to the fire department goes “above and beyond” in calling him “truly exemplary.”
Harman is “definitely one of those folks who leads by examples,” said Mikkelsen, with no call too small. “If it is a nuisance call in 3 a.m., he is out of bed just as much as everybody else, leading by example on a voluntary basis to get things done.”
As such, he is following in the footsteps of his father Len, Sidney’s long-time volunteer deputy fire chief and paramedic. “Probably his greatest strength is that he is very much like his father,” said Mikkelsen.
“Mike grew up in that type of environment, where you get out of bed at 3 a.m., you respond to pagers, you kind of wrap your family life around it,” said Mikkelsen. “So it’s very much in his DNA and the whole town is very fortunate that we have him on board here.”
Harman, a father of three, said he learned from watching his father. “He is the one who got me into volunteering and giving back to the community,” he said. “Our leadership roles are very much the same.”
Harman’s longevity with the Town of Sidney as an employee and the department itself can also be read as a measure of his loyalty, a point of pride as Harman sees his award as a recognition of his professional dedication.
“I don’t have a long history of working in multiple different places,” he said. “The town has always been a great place to work. We have had a great leadership team at the top and I have never really looked to go anywhere else. So I have dug my roots in here.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.