April 17, 2009 Volume 110 Number 8

Retired Painter named ‘Firefighter of the Year’

John Kirkpatrick, a retired union representative for Painters and Allied Trades District Council 5, was named “Firefighter of the Year” at Estacada Rural Fire District #69.

A member of Painters and Drywall Finishers Local 10, Kirkpatrick, 56, took early retirement in 2007. He had toyed with the idea of volunteering for the Fire Department since moving to Estacada more than 20 years ago. But the long, irregular hours of his union job coupled with raising a family prevented it.

A week after he retired, Kirkpatrick saw a sign at the fire station announcing a new recruiting class for volunteers. He checked it out, and decided to take the plunge. “I didn't know I was looking for one of the biggest and most rewarding challenges of my life,” he told the Labor Press.

Estacada, like many rural fire districts, relies on volunteers to supplement its career staff in their fire and emergency medical operations.

Kirkpatrick is a certified Firefighter I and holds an EMT B license. He has fought numerous structural, commercial and car fires, responded to car wrecks, helped in extrications, and in rope rescue operations. He has set up landing zones for Life Flight on dark rainy highways in the middle of the night, loaded patients in ambulances, and experienced the times when there was nothing he could do but call the medical examiner.

“It is an exciting, challenging, more rewarding experience than I could have ever expected it to be, and I get the chance to work with the best people you can ever hope to meet,” he said.

His experience was topped off in February when, at the Fire Department’s annual banquet, he was named Firefighter of the Year for 2008.

“You could have literally knocked me over with a feather,” he said. “With all of the other more experienced and capable candidates on the department, I couldn’t believe they chose me. But they did ... and they can’t take it back!”

Kirkpatrick says the award gives him the incentive to continue to train and work harder to become a better firefighter for the City of Estacada.

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