Veteran firefighter retires after 32 years

POULSBO — One of Poulsbo Fire Department’s long-term active volunteer firefighters is about to sound the alarm for the final time, after 32 years of dedicated service and risking his life for the North Kitsap community.

The public is invited to attend a retirement party for Don Stevens at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 at the PFD headquarters.

Stevens began fighting fires in 1975 while working as a naval officer for the Naval Torpedo Station in Keyport as a way for him and his wife, Karol, to become involved in the community. His hard work and contribution have not been extinguished since.

“On Mondays, we heard a siren go off at the Keyport Fire Station for their drill night,” he said. “We went over to see what it was about and fell in love with the fire service and the great group of people.”

As the region’s fire departments changed shape, Stevens moved up the volunteer ladder, eventually becoming a captain for the larger Poulsbo Fire Department at Keyport’s Station No. 73 in 1986.

“Any more we don’t see people sticking around for that length of time,” said PFD battalion chief Kurt Krech. “Don is going to be missed. We’re counting on him to continue as a retired mentor. I still figure on seeing him down at the station, checking on the guys making sure things aren’t getting too far awry.”

Krech said Stevens was an integral part of developing a wildland and incident management training team. Since 2000, he has instructed about 2,000 students in wildland firefighting and has sent out about 30 strike teams. Krech said he also continually assisted with community events, including Keyport’s July 4th community pancake breakfast at the firehouse. He helped dispatch personnel from Kitsap County during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, and has served as a representative to the Puget Sound Fire Defense Board. Krech said training, too, was an area Stevens excelled in, pushing his crews to ensure their skills and safety were well honed.

“I could count on Don,” Krech said. “That was the greatest thing. I could say, ‘Don, take care of this’ and he’d get it taken care of.”

PFD Chief Jim Shields said Stevens has been an instrumental leader to the department, especially in the southern portion of its district.

“Don’s been an integral part of the department for a significant number of years,” Shields said. “He integrated right into our department and has been one of the maintsays in the Keyport area.”

Shields said Stevens could be depended on to keep Station No. 73 fit and ready for action, and was often one of, if not the, first volunteers to answer each call.

“He’s been a ready volunteer through the years,” he said. “That’s very commendable.”

Stevens recently accepted a position as national director of research and development for electronic powerhouse Panasonic.

“I am entering a new chapter of my life,” he said. “Most people retire to have more time but because of my professional career, it’s the opposite for me.”

An American flag will be flown on his behalf at the state’s and nation’s capital.

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