Kennewick Fire Department Celebrates 100 Years of Service - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kennewick Fire Department Celebrates 100 Years of Service

KENNEWICK, Wa. -- The Kennewick Fire Department is celebrating 100 years of service.      Tuesday night Kennewick Mayor Jim Beaver read a special proclamation recognizing the department's 100 years of fighting fires, saving lives and protecting property.      The fire department was all-volunteer until 1950 and wasn't a fully paid department until 1978.      Several of Kennewick's former fire chiefs and firefighters were on hand for the proclamation.      Jim Billingsey was a Kennewick firefighter from 1950 to 1975. "I just backed into it.  I was a volunteer and all the volunteers took the test for the paid department.  Nobody else.  Didn't have civil service deal, you know," said Billingsley.      When he first started, he was paid $240 a month. "We had a 1948 Mac, was a new one, but then we had a 1935 Ford and a '42 Ford.  They weren't much good," said Billingsley. The fire department will be celebrating the centennial all year.  In May, a time capsule will be opened that's been sealed since 1977.  In 100 years of service, the Kennewick Fire Department has never lost a firefighter in the line of duty.