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COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Serving those who serve Central Kitsap

By KASSIE KORICH

Editor

When Mark Johnson isn’t fighting fires or spending time with his family, he’s fulfilling another important role. As the president of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 2819, serving Central Kitsap, North Kitsap and Poulsbo, Johnson takes pride in leading his fellow firefighters. Johnson, who has been a Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue firefighter for 10 years, has served as IAFF Local 2819 president for two years. He was recently re-elected to another two-year term. We recently sat down with the busy firefighter to find out more about him.

Question: What do you like best about being the president of IAFF Local 2819?

Answer: I get to serve the firefighters who do the job. I can look out for them so they can look out for the citizens.

Q: Which local event do you always participate in and why?

A: I’ve always participated in the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Fill the Boot. We have a current member who’s daughter has muscular dystrophy.

Q: What is your favorite part of Silverdale?

A: I like the fact it’s a small community with a lot of things for me and my kids to do.

Q: How do you juggle family, career and Local 2819 president responsibilities?

A: Very carefully. I don’t think I would be able to be president without the support of my wife, Kathleen.

Q: Do you wish you had a fire pole at Station 51?

A: No, for safety reasons they’re taking fire poles out (of other fire departments). People were getting hurt. They’re putting slides in now, the spiral kind.

Q: Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?

A: I’ve always been a James Stewart fan.

Q: Are you for or against Silverdale incorporation?

I’m neither right now. I think it’s important the citizens decide if they want that extra level of government.

Q: What’s your most memorable firefighting moment?

A: Going on emergency medical calls. You get to see people in their true element. My career is hopefully going to encapsulate helping people.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: I do. Woodworking. But I haven’t been able to do much of it lately. I really like to build things.

Q: What has been your most memorable vacation spot?

A: Last year my wife and I and two other couples, we went to Tahiti. We took a 10-day cruise.

Q: What’s it like living so close with fellow firefighters when on-shift?

A: I think that’s what attracts people to the job. The firefighters are my family. What makes it fun is the brotherhood and sisterhood we have in the fire service.

Q: Any favorite pranks to pull on each other?

A: These have really calmed down over the years. They just don’t fly nowadays. You’ll see a few here and there, like putting a fish in someone’s locker.

Q: What is the biggest change you’ve seen since you’ve been in Silverdale?

A: I’ve only been here for 10 years, but the growth is really the biggest change and how we’re dealing with that. We’re trying to get more and more people in a small space. That’s what’s changed our job too. Our call volume is going up significantly.

Q: Do you have a favorite meal?

A: I like them all equally. A favorite is steak and shrimp. I’m not one to turn down a good cheeseburger either.

Q: What was the worse job you’ve ever had?

A: I don’t think any of them were a “worse job.” I think every job I’ve had has taught me life lessons. In high school, I worked for an insurance company. I’ve worked in fast food. In college, I worked campus security for PLU (Pacific Lutheran University). I’ve worked for a private ambulance company. They’ve all taught me things I needed to get me where I am today.

Q: Do you watch “Rescue Me.”

A: I don’t. It’s on too late for me and my kids. But a lot of the guys do.

Q: What’s your favorite part about firefighting?

A: I just like to help people. The great thing about being a firefighter is people call 911 because they need help and we try to help them. There’s some adrenaline there too because you don’t know what call you’ll go on next, but that tends to disappear over the years. You have to base your career as a firefighter on helping people.

Q: Your least favorite?

A: It has to be the death that we see in the field. Whether it’s an infant, before the child’s time or a couple who has been married for years and years and one of them dies. It can be hard. It’s a huge responsibility to be in someone’s home during those first few minutes (of a death). I’m honored to be able to be there.

Q: What has been the strangest call you’ve responded to?

A: There have been some weird ones. A lot of the strange ones are the patients who have psychological issues, the ones who think they’re God. We’ve gone on a few calls with strange deaths and we wondered what happened.

Q: Who has made the biggest impression on your life?

A: In the beginning of my career, it was my family, my parents and the relationship with my brothers and sister. But since I met her, the one who has made the biggest impression is my wife. She’s always supported me.

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