Clarkston Fire Chief Retires Today
42 Years From Volunteer To Fire Chief
CLARKSTON, WA – After 42 years Chief Steve Cooper is hanging up his hat and turnouts. Today is the Clarkston Fire Chief’s last day.
“I’ve enjoyed every day of it” Cooper said about his career.
He started as a volunteer at the Lewiston Fire Department in January of 1977. From there, he worked his way up to Chief of the LFD by the time he retired in 2005. That’s when he moved his services to Clarkston where he got to change his way of thinking.
“I’d never worked with a volunteer group before. I found that interesting and challenging.”
Cooper says his career has gone by in a blur. For him it wasn’t a daily grind, he remembers his time in the fire service as a string of big things that happened from time to time.
“I remember some fires. Some sad, sad fires, and I remember some exciting ones. So those events, those events have been pretty darn important.”
As the head of the CFD, he helped set up the ambulance program, and worked with Lewiston Fire, Asotin County Fire, and Clearwater Paper Fire to create an Auto-Aid program so that no matter where a big fire happens in the LC Valley, at least one other department is coming to help without having to be asked.
You may remember a few years ago he tried to retire from the CFD. Just before the day came, the city council asked him to stay on for a little while longer while they worked out some kinks in the department. Cooper didn’t mind at all.
“I was happy to stay. I was really pleased.”
It just wasn’t time, but now he says it is time. That doesn’t mean that it’s time to put his feet up and watch the river go by though. He is literally going to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. He and some of his friends are going to be doing some work for the Forest Service at locations that can only be accessed by horseback. He has a trip planned soon that will take him into the wilderness near the North Fork of the Clearwater River, in remote locations in Montana, and other trips will follow those this year.
Regardless of where he’s headed, the years and people behind him are what has shaped his life and his career.
“Firefighters are good people. Across the board. I’ve been just excited about the people I’ve worked for for all those years. Good people who want to do good things for their community.”
Chief Cooper has a retirement party today, Tuesday, at 4:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration. It’s at the Clarkston Fire Department on 5th Street.