By Bonnie Culverhouse
There is an old black and white photo on the wall of Minden Fire Chief Kip Mourad’s office at the firehouse.
“It’s my favorite picture,” Mourad said. “It tells you my life – what I love to do, right there. We were at a structure fire, and I was standing there with a hose, just waiting on water, waiting to go fight the fire.”
On February 1, 2023, Mourad will retire with exactly 50 years of fighting fires under his belt, although since he became chief in 2008, he hasn’t fought as many as he has since he turned 15 years old.
“I tried to join before that … when I was 12, I’d ride the truck,” he said. “Finally, Chief (T.C.) Bloxom told me I couldn’t do it any more because of insurance purposes.”
That slowed his fire career a bit, but not for long. A love for fighting fires and helping people is in his blood.
“My dad volunteered for several years,” Mourad said. “Then he became full time in 1959. We lived in the downtown fire station and then this one (Fire Station No. 1) when I was a kid.”
Mourad’s father, George Mourad, retired as a fire captain in 1985.
“I’ve been around this my whole life,” Mourad said. “My dad had everything to do with why I became a fire fighter.”
As a child, when the truck would return from a run, he would help refill the water, wipe down the truck and load the hose.
And as he grew, so did his desire to fight fires.
“Not only did I learn everything from my dad, but I had the support of my mother and all (four) sisters,” he said. “I am the person I am today because of that support.”
Mourad said he doesn’t remember every fire he’s fought. Fibrebond Corporation sticks out in his mind as being one of the biggest and most significant.
He does remember some of the ones that ended in tragedy, but fortunately, he’s learned to deal with the trauma over the years.
“I don’t know if I have some mechanism in my mind that helps me turn it off,” he said. “But the thing about a fire department, you go to a scene and all your guys are there. You get back to the station and talk about it. It’s good to talk after a tragic situation like that.”
While it’s stressful – physically and emotionally – Mourad says being a fireman is fun.
Life changed somewhat for him in December 2008 when the late Mayor Bill Robertson asked Mourad to become fire chief for the city.
“I really never wanted to be chief,” he said. “We always thought Jimmy Batton would be chief after Bloxom, but Jimmy passed away. Then we thought Bennie Gray would be chief, but he got on the council, so he couldn’t be chief.”
Mourad said he told Robertson that being an administrative chief just wasn’t for him.
“I’m a line operational chief,” he said. “I know what to do at a fire scene.”
But Robertson convinced Mourad that he had a crew of good people that would help him with the transition. Mourad named retired assistant fire chiefs Tommy John Hughes, John Tucker and Guy Mandino as some of those who made it possible for him to do the job.
As a Minden firefighter and chief, Mourad also put in more than 30 years as a Shreveport firefighter at Central Station. He retired from there in 2011. He never called in sick.
“I’ve never not enjoyed coming to work,” he said.
Technology and other things have changed fire fighting since Mourad has been in the business.
“Equipment is much lighter now,” he said. “Air packs used to be steel bottles. Now they’re fiberglass. Hoses are lighter … they’re synthetic. There are buttons on the pumps (trucks).”
After February 1, Mourad will head to a beach in Alabama, where his wife Jenny already has a home waiting for him. For the past 39 years, she’s been an understanding, supportive wife.
“I told her after I retire, we’ll do what she wants to do,” he said, adding how much he appreciates the way she has “put up” with his job. “I’m going to learn to fish the coast … maybe get a part time job.”
But he won’t stay away from Minden completely. Although the couple’s daughter lives in South Carolina, their son is in Shreveport.
An important part of the family, though, is in Minden – many of them at Fire Station No. 1 and the other local stations.
“I will miss the guys I worked with,” he said. “The camaraderie, the respect for the job and each other. They are all good guys, good employees. They can fight a fire without me there. I have a lot of respect for them.”
There will be a reception honoring Mourad’s retirement at 1 p.m. Thursday, January 5 at Minden City Hall. The public is invited to attend.
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE