Camas and Washougal firefighters are honored

Local emergency responders attend annual banquet

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Camas Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Ervin, Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Wilson and Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Richardson (from left to right) look over the program for the annual awards banquet Friday night, at the Camas Community Center. The event honored paid Camas and Washougal firefighters, as well as retired Camas volunteer firefighters and their spouses.

Friday night was a time for hugs and handshakes as firefighters and their spouses greeted each other at the Camas Community Center.

This year, the sixth annual awards banquet also involved the paid firefighters from the Washougal Fire Department.

Camas Battalion Chief Mark Ervin, in his opening remarks, took a moment to remember firefighters from around the state who died last year. After the dinner, former interim CFD Chief Monte Brachmann led a moment of silence for Scott Coffman — a former Camas and East County Fire & Rescue volunteer firefighter who died in February 2011.

Brachmann, a former CFD volunteer, recognized others who have served through the years. Maxine Ambrose, Bud and Donna Butts, Agnes Cameron, Don Fulthorp, Ken and Kathy Hadley, Deloy and Marge Little, Jeanne Miller, Jackie Palmer, Dean Rasmussen and Diann Zollo were among the retirees and spouses who attended the banquet. Paul and Barbara Runyan were also recognized, but not in attendance.

In his “state of the union” speech, Kevin Bergstrom, president of the Camas-Washougal Professional Firefighters Local 2444, described the group as “one big happy family.”

The local union includes firefighters from the CFD, WFD and ECFR.

Bergstrom talked about “shrinking budgets” and “doing more with less.”

He described firefighters as being a “very proud group,” with logos on T-shirts, hats and license plates.

“The state of the union is strong,” Bergstrom concluded.

He has served as president of the Local 2444 for 13 years.

“That takes a lot of energy,” said Fulthorp, a former president of the union.

CFD Chief Nick Swinhart said he was happy to return to his home state of Washington. He, his wife and daughter moved from South Dakota in the summer of 2011.

Efforts toward a trial merger involving the Camas and Washougal fire departments were underway prior to Swinhart’s arrival in July.

Two videos were shown during the banquet, including a spoof of a “Camougal” Fire Department with six chiefs. The other video included footage of practice burns in buildings and fire safety presentations to local children.

Firefighters who were recognized for their years of service to their respective departments included: Larry Saari (WFD) and Allen Wolk (CFD), for 25 years; Garry Alex (CFD), Randy Miller (CFD) and Earl Scott (WFD), for 20 years; Paul Bennett (CFD), Steve Pozsgai (CFD) and Joe Scheer (WFD), for 15 years.

Employees who were recognized for 10 years of service included Aireanna Baldwin (WFD), Dave McMakin (WFD), Larry Larimer (CFD), Kevin Villines (CFD), Kevin West (CFD) and Kevin Wilson (CFD).

Firefighters and other personnel who were honored for five years of service included Darren Deibler (CFD), Chris Kassel (WFD), Nick Ober (CFD) and Alicia Ramsey (CFD).

A certificate of recognition for Cliff Free’s promotion to division chief of EMS was also mentioned, and Cliff Hamilton and the management of Kraft Foods were honored for contributions to the annual CFD Safety Fair.

Washougal firefighters — paid and volunteer — will be honored Wednesday during the annual appreciation dinner hosted by the Masons-North Bank Lodge 182, in Washougal. The “Volunteer of the Year” will be named during that event.

East County Fire & Rescue personnel will be honored during an annual dinner Friday, April 6.