Guiding voice of LVFD laid to rest
Polk County Enterprise, September 2007
By JAMES E. BAUGH
LIVINGSTON – On Wednesday, the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department honored its long-time dispatcher, friend and “guiding voice” as Mildred Duncan was laid to rest at Forest Hill Cemetery following services in Cochran Funeral Home Chapel.
“By every entity that she worked with - from the fire deparment to the police department to the sheriff’s office and the ambulance services - she was held
“Mrs. Mildred” began working dispatch for the fire department from her home on Skyview Drive on November 11, 1975 and was on duty for less than 10 minutes when she dispatched her first call. Duncan had been working from home as a seamstress when her son Wayne, a volunteer firefighter, volunteered her for dispatch, said Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran.
Wayne figured she didn’t go anywhere most days and could use the extra income.
“ She told us she didn’t know what to do but she would do her best and to let her know if we wanted to get someone else, she would understand – that was 32 years ago,” recalled Cochran.
In her 32-year career which ended in January of 2007, Duncan dispatched over 12,000 calls, answering calls night and day, only taking the weekends off.
“When she wasn’t working dispatch she was so worried she was missing something,” said Cochran.
“She’d spend the whole weekend looking forward to getting back to work.”
Working for the fire department was a passion for Mrs. Mildred and she thought of the men who volunteered as “her boys” and was always concerned for their well-being.
However, she didn’t hesitate to prod them like a good mama would when they needed, and could be heard over the airwaves telling the men to “get up and go, boys, we’ve got a house on fire!” laughed Cochran.
Mildred was also a great cook, as many of her neighbors and friends can attest, and loved canning.
“Jimmy Stephens always kept a big garden and he would keep Mrs. Mildred supplied with plenty of vegetables,” remembered Cochran.
Duncan took her job seriously and there was never a call too trivial. If someone took the time to call in, she took the time to deal with it and never spoke down to anyone.
She once received an automated sales call on the fire line and commenced telling the recorded voice that “this is an emergency line and you need to get off it,” according to the guys gathered at the station house after her funeral.
Other area fire departments were on call during the funeral services Wednesday so that all of the men from Livingston Volunteer Fire Department could attend.