A firefighter in uniform standing in front of an american flag.

Firefighter Vic Kave retires with 30 years of service

After a 30-year career with the Auburn Fire Department and Valley Regional Fire Authority, James (Vic) Kave has decided to retire.

Vic grew up in an area of West Virginia where fire departments were staffed entirely by volunteers. Though the work appealed to him, he knew he wouldn’t be able to make a living, so joined the US Army in 1986. There he served as a Ranger, Marksmanship Instructor, and Team Leader for the Fort Lewis Special Reaction Team.  He also deployed to Panama for “Operation Just Cause.” Kave received several commendations and achievement medals for his outstanding service.

Toward the end of his military service Vic met a National Guard member who was also a Seattle Firefighter.  Once he learned that paid EMT/Firefighter positions existed in the Northwest, he pursued the career and was hired by the Auburn Fire Department in 1992.

Vic 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 27-year member of the Technical Rescue Team.  He took on a team leader role that involved training members to international standards and replacing outdated equipment. For his efforts, Vic was recognized by the President of Dive Rescue International and received a Medal of Commendation from the VRFA.

“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.

In addition to technical rescue, Vic served twelve years as a Hazardous Materials Technician and nine years as 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. Vic 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.

“When looking back on Vic’s career, it’s impossible to ignore the large impact he has had on our agency and county-wide Technical Rescue Teams. He has trained hundreds of firefighters during his career. But what resonates even louder is Vic’s ability to step up and serve the VRFA and community when it’s truly needed. His willingness to come in and fill multiple roles has been instrumental to our success,” said Fire Chief Brad Thompson.

While working as a firefighter, Vic continued his education, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, and Associate degrees in Fire Command Administration, Technology, and Arts and Science. He was also elected to serve as a member of the Pacific City Council and Mayor Pro Tem.

“Vic has an amazing list of accomplishments with the VRFA,. His knowledge, experience and leadership are irreplaceable. His legacy with our department lives on in wisdom he’s passed forward,” said Captain Jeremiah Mushen.