Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Firefighter's Fifty Years of Voluntary Service

During the Fire District’s regular Monday evening meeting on July 1, Cliff Kilponen was surprised when the dispatcher toned out his number and announced that as of today, Cliff Kilponen has served as a member of Pacific County Fire District 4 for 50 years. “I knew it had been somewhere around that long,” said Kilponen, “but I thought the anniversary was later in the year.” Assistant Fire Chief Nate Engleson had researched the department’s record books and found the entry where, on July 1, 1974, the motion had been made and approved to accept Kilponen as a member of Fire District 4. Successfully keeping Kilponen in the dark, his fellow firefighters and EMT’s planned a celebration to recognize and honor such an amazing record of voluntary service to his county and his community.

“Today, July 1, marks a special day in our fire department’s history,” said Engleson, “and to find out why today’s date is so special, you have to go back 50 years to the day July 1, 1974. In the minutes you will see that a motion was made and passed to accept Cliff Kilponen into the Department. So, today we’re here to celebrate and honor you Cliff and give you this plaque showing our appreciation of all you hard work and dedication.”

Ambulance Director Will Green spoke, adding “The man with a year-round tan and a constant good-looking grin. He enters the room with a distinctive cool recognizable voice. He has built a family and business all while simultaneously and humbly providing to this community and department. 50 years! Cliff has been answering the call for help. For 50 years he has gained experience and knowledge that is shared and passed down throughout the generations. July 1, 1974, was Cliff’s initial start into a rewarding and heartfelt commitment that he has provided to many of us, some gone and some still here. None of us are as cool as golf swinging, Mexico tripping Cliff! His leadership is more than a chairman or a senior member, it’s encouragement and a testament of what commitment can gain and that is RESPECT. Cliff you’re respected and loved and we thank you and your family for letting us have some of your coolness.”

High praise came from Fire Chief Doug Sandell. “Cliff is always there and can always be depended upon. He is one of the top people that I can count on. He is always ready and quick to respond. He does his call time. For a while, we were short-handed, and Cliff was on duty like every other day. I don’t know of anyone who has put in 50 years of service. I guess the closest is Bill Bighill who served for 42 years prior to his retirement. Cliff doesn’t get excited. He’s very cool and calm. I guess you would say he has a good head on his shoulders. He doesn’t get rattled. It depends on the person. I know quite a few guys that were older that had been in the department for quite some time and still could get rattled. I mean everybody’s adrenaline jacks up quite a bit under different situations, but you can always count on Cliff to stay steady and get done whatever is called for.”

Over the past half of a century, Kilponen has volunteered his time as a firefighter, an EMT, and, in more recent years, ambulance driver for the Fire District. In addition he has also served as a Fire Commissioner for at least the last sixteen years. It represents a heretofore unmatched dedication to a community and a cause. As the cake and ice cream were being consumed, it was clear from the back patting, hand shaking and congratulatory words that this is a man whose competence and longevity has earned the love and respect of all of those involved in Fire District 4 and his community.

During a moment of reflection, Kilponen commented, “I guess my best memory is just being around everybody and the camaraderie. It is a great group of people. We’ve spent so much time with all these people it’s like a family.” Then in his characteristic style, he turned the discussion away from himself to complimentary comments of the work being done by other members of the fire district family.


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