Three Yakima firefighters hang up their helmets - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Three Yakima firefighters hang up their helmets

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, WA - There will be three big roles to fill in the Yakima Fire Department. Today is the last day on the job for Station Captains Tim Whitehurst and Rocky Willette, and Deputy Fire Chief Ted Vander Houwen.

They've all spent more than 30 years of their lives serving the community, and even though they're retiring, they'll all miss one thing.

"The comradery amongst the crews, amongst all the people," said Whitehurst. "The Yakima Fire Department has some great, great people, and we stick together and I'll miss that."

Firefighters go through a process to retire, which takes a couple months. But it doesn't make their last day any less surreal.

"I feel like I'm just off on a set of days off," said Willette. "Maybe in a week I'll realize it. I talked to one of the other retired fellas here and he said it took about three years for him to feel like he was really retired, always just felt like he was on his days off."

As these men leave behind their careers as firefighters, they look forward to the next generation of men and women who may be thinking about joining the fire department.

And they have some advice.

"Invest in people. Invest in yourself. Get some education," said Vander Houwen. "We need people in the fire service with real world skills. This is a job where you have to understand the physical world and be able to work within in it and I look forward to finding people who come to this job with varied skills. Construction workers, electricians, and even the administrative-type people. It really thrills me to see the capabilities that people can come with."

If you combine all the years of service between the three of them, it adds up to 92 years! But now, they'll get to spend more time with their families and it's very well deserved.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Yakima NewsYakima News TodayMore>>

  • US Marshals Task Force arrests wanted gang affiliate in Yakima

    US Marshals Task Force arrests wanted gang affiliate in Yakima

    Thursday, November 15 2018 9:28 PM EST2018-11-16 02:28:57 GMT
    YAKIMA, WA – On Wednesday, the United States Marshals Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force (PNVOTF) was working in Yakima trying to locate and arrest 41-year-old Elijio Mendoza. Mendoza was wanted by the Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) for Failure to Report. He is a known gang affiliate, who is classified as a High Violent Offender.  The PNVOTF had surveillance of a house in south Yakima and tried to arrest Mendoza....More >>
    YAKIMA, WA – On Wednesday, the United States Marshals Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force (PNVOTF) was working in Yakima trying to locate and arrest 41-year-old Elijio Mendoza. Mendoza was wanted by the Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) for Failure to Report. He is a known gang affiliate, who is classified as a High Violent Offender.  The PNVOTF had surveillance of a house in south Yakima and tried to arrest Mendoza....More >>
  • New Goodwill coming to Kennewick

    New Goodwill coming to Kennewick

    Thursday, November 15 2018 8:44 PM EST2018-11-16 01:44:59 GMT
    KENNEWICK: Good news for all of you bargain shoppers out there, Goodwill is opening a brand new store in Kennewick sometime next year. Thanks to a 3.1 million dollar loan and lots of planning, a very large patch of dirt will be home to a 20,000 square foot Goodwill; half warehouse and processing, half retail. The Kennewick store will be closing, however. You can still say, out with your old couches, TV's and clothing, and *into someone else's hands, just at a different location. ...More >>
    KENNEWICK: Good news for all of you bargain shoppers out there, Goodwill is opening a brand new store in Kennewick sometime next year. Thanks to a 3.1 million dollar loan and lots of planning, a very large patch of dirt will be home to a 20,000 square foot Goodwill; half warehouse and processing, half retail. The Kennewick store will be closing, however. You can still say, out with your old couches, TV's and clothing, and *into someone else's hands, just at a different location. ...More >>
  • Ballots are still being counted in Yakima

    Ballots are still being counted in Yakima

    Thursday, November 15 2018 8:08 PM EST2018-11-16 01:08:50 GMT

    The midterm elections were over a week ago, but more than 15,000 ballots in Yakima still haven't been counted. 

    More >>

    The midterm elections were over a week ago, but more than 15,000 ballots in Yakima still haven't been counted. 

    More >>