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COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Serving those who serve Central Kitsap
By KASSIE KORICH
When Mark Johnson isnt fighting fires or spending time with his family, hes 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: Ive always participated in the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Fill the Boot. We have a current member whos daughter has muscular dystrophy.
Q: What is your favorite part of Silverdale?
A: I like the fact its 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 dont 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 theyre taking fire poles out (of other fire departments). People were getting hurt. Theyre putting slides in now, the spiral kind.
Q: Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?
A: Ive always been a James Stewart fan.
Q: Are you for or against Silverdale incorporation?
Im neither right now. I think its important the citizens decide if they want that extra level of government.
Q: Whats 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 havent 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: Whats it like living so close with fellow firefighters when on-shift?
A: I think thats 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 dont fly nowadays. Youll see a few here and there, like putting a fish in someones locker.
Q: What is the biggest change youve seen since youve been in Silverdale?
A: Ive only been here for 10 years, but the growth is really the biggest change and how were dealing with that. Were trying to get more and more people in a small space. Thats whats 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. Im not one to turn down a good cheeseburger either.
Q: What was the worse job youve ever had?
A: I dont think any of them were a worse job. I think every job Ive had has taught me life lessons. In high school, I worked for an insurance company. Ive worked in fast food. In college, I worked campus security for PLU (Pacific Lutheran University). Ive worked for a private ambulance company. Theyve all taught me things I needed to get me where I am today.
Q: Do you watch Rescue Me.
A: I dont. Its on too late for me and my kids. But a lot of the guys do.
Q: Whats 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. Theres some adrenaline there too because you dont know what call youll 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 its an infant, before the childs time or a couple who has been married for years and years and one of them dies. It can be hard. Its a huge responsibility to be in someones home during those first few minutes (of a death). Im honored to be able to be there.
Q: What has been the strangest call youve 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 theyre God. Weve 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. Shes always supported me.