Captain Bill Austin, a bald man in uniform, retires after a distinguished career of service, pictured standing proudly in front of an American flag.

Captain Bill Austin Retires

VRFA Fire Captain Bill Austin has spent most of his life responding to emergencies.  And, although he is looking forward to retirement, he admits it will be an adjustment.

“This is something I’ve been doing since I was 18.  It is a strange feeling knowing I won’t be able to climb in the cab of the engine, turn on the sirens, and focus intently with my crew on the next emergency,” said Austin.

Bill graduated from Rogers High School in Puyallup in 1985, then joined the United States Air Force, working out of Travis Airforce Base in California.  He served four years, then took a firefighting job with the Boeing Fire Department.  In April 1991, Austin was hired by the Auburn Fire Department, now VRFA.

Over his 33 years in the fire service, Austin found many ways to contribute to the legacy Auburn Fire Department and the VRFA.  In addition to his firefighting duties, Bill became a Public Information and Education Specialist for five years, teaching safety classes to all ages and serving as a liaison to the media.  After that, Bill became part of the first Respiratory Team.  As a Specialist, he assisted in researching and purchasing all new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), testing and maintaining the equipment, and training firefighters on proper use.  He represented his department at many events as a member of the Honor Guard and was deployed several times as a Red Card-certified wildland firefighter.

“I enjoyed the different types of work required on the deployments.  It was both exciting and humbling.  The biggest reward was the gratitude of those we could help,” said Austin.

Austin received the “2012 Firefighter of the Year,” an honor bestowed upon him by his peers.  Shortly after receiving the award, Bill was promoted to Captain and placed in charge of the respiratory program.  He managed the program for nine years.

One of the things Bill enjoyed most during his tenure as Captain was training new firefighters.  “I enjoyed passing on knowledge and giving them the foundation for a successful career,” he said.

Later in his career, Austin took on the challenge of site supervisor for the COVID testing site and then the vaccine site in Auburn.  He served a year and a half between both.

“Bill’s retirement marks the end of a remarkable firefighting career.  He was always very thoughtful about others and tremendously dedicated to his craft.  He personally taught me much.  We will miss his passion and tenacity,” said Fire Chief Brad Thompson.