Vic Kave has trained hundreds of firefighters during his 30 years with the Auburn Fire Department and the Valley Regional Fire Authority, earning respect along the way for being the sort of guy who steps up and serves the community when the community needs him most.
For him, one day stands out in particular.
“One of the most rewarding moments of my career was due to my technical rescue training. A co- worker and I worked to rescue a 14-year-old girl from the river when it was in flood stage, ultimately saving her life,” said Kave.
But now Kave has decided to retire.
Kave’s retirement brings to a close a career he wanted but at one time did not know he could even have.
Though the fire service appealed to him when he was a kid in his native West Virginia, he said, one issuestopped him: as far as he knew, he’d never be able to make a living at it: every fire department in the part of the state where he grew up was volunteer only.
So instead, in 1986 Kave joined the US Army, which he would serve as a Ranger, a marksmanship instructor and as a team leader for the Fort Lewis Special Reaction Team, even deploy to Panama for “Operation Just Cause.” Kave received several commendations and achievement medals for his outstanding service.
Toward the end of his army service, Kave met a National Guard member who was also a firefighter, telling to him that in Washington state, they actually paid people to be emergency medical technicians-firefighters.
It was a revelation. Old dream rekindled, Kave applied with the Auburn Fire Department and was hired in 1992.
Kave was named the Valedictorian of his class at the Washington State Firefighter Recruit Academy and soon found his niche in the fire service as a member of the Technical Rescue Team. He took on a team leader role that saw him training members to international standards and replacing outdated equipment.
Not only has Kave been a key member of the VRFA’s technical rescue team, plucking people from rivers and off of cliffs and such, he was 12 years a hazardous materials technician and nine years a member of the Honor Guard. He has been a Wildland Red Card certified team member since 1995 and was deployed numerous times locally and out of the state.
Three years ago the President of Dive Rescue International recognized his 27 years of service to the TRC, and the VRFA awarded him Medal of Commendation.
Kave also dedicated hours of his time to various project needs for the department, working on and leading committees related to apprentice training, safety, health and wellness, and negotiations.
He will be missed, said colleagues.
“His willingness to come in and fill multiple roles has been instrumental to our success,” said VRFA Chief Brad Thompson.