John Kokotilo still has no plans to hang up the hard hat.
Lac La Biche County celebrated John Kokotilo during the last council meeting for his 40 years as a firefighter.
Kokotilo has been the Lac La Biche Manager of Protective Services and Regional Fire Chief since 2014, but he started his career in Edmonton 30 years prior.
“When I was quite a young guy I had just finished junior hockey and I had to find a career. I didn’t make it in hockey, so I needed something kind of exciting because I was an energetic person,” said Kokotilo.
“I had to make the decision between being a police officer or a firefighter, and I thought the firefighter would be a better move for me to go.”
Over the course of his career, Kokotilo has dealt with tornadoes, structure fires, motor-vehicle collisions, and most recently, he played an essential role when Lac La Biche had to declare a state of local emergency because of flooding back in June.
“During the flooding, we removed water from flooded areas, we directed traffic, and helped run some equipment to wherever it needed to go,” said Kokotilo.
Kokotilo believes that every good firefighter needs two main traits to excel in the field.
“It’s beneficial to be honorable, compassionate, and have empathy, but the two things every firefighter needs to have is the right attitude, and that they are prepared at all times,” said Kokotilo.
Although Kokotilo spent the majority of his career in Edmonton, he has enjoyed being the Fire Chief in Lac La Biche and he now calls it home.
“I love it out here it’s full of nature and a lot of outdoor activities to do which is right up my ally,” said Kokotilo.
“The people here are some of the best I’ve ever met. I love doing what I’m doing, and I love the community.”
The firefighting vet isn’t looking to retire anytime soon.
“I have no plans to retire, Lac La Biche is a great town, and it’s exciting being a firefighter here,” said Kokotilo.