Community honors Kennewick's first paid firefighter - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Community honors Kennewick's first paid firefighter

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KENNEWICK, Wash. --  Friends, family and the firefighting community gathered at Mueller's Chapel of the Falls in Kennewick to pay respects to the city's first paid firefighter.

 86 year old Jim Billingsley died in hospice house Friday.
He was a World War Two Army veteran who served as a volunteer for the Kennewick Fire Department before being the first to be hired for the position back in 1950.

He retired back in 1975.  Friends say he was always calm and could take on anything.

"Now you may have four or five guys on an engine, and another engine backing you up, but back then they had one guy on an engine and you didn't know if you were going to get any back-up.  So you had to improvise, you had to handle it.. And handle the situation and Jim was able to do that," says Capt. Ron Ohair, a retiree from the Kennewick Fire Department.

Following services, KFD held a precession, and Billingsley's coffin was driven to his place of rest in the city's first fire engine.