Volunteer Spotlight: Suzie Hill Koklich

The NVFC is celebrating our 45th anniversary in 2021. In honor of this, we asked some of our longtime board members their thoughts about the NVFC and the volunteer fire service. This week we spotlight Suzie Hill Koklich, NVFC director from Alaska.

Name: Suzie Hill Koklich
Location: Valdez, AK

What is your current or most recent position in the volunteer fire service?
Alaska Director, NVFC

When and why did you become a fire service volunteer?
1981, because I had been in EMS in another community and when I married and moved to Valdez, my husband was a volunteer, so I thought why not.

What year did you join the NVFC?

What originally motivated you to join the NVFC?
Two things: to represent the Alaska State Firefighters Association and to be a part of the “process” and hopefully help the volunteers of the State of Alaska through the work the NVFC does.

In your view, how has the NVFC changed since you joined?
Oh my, how we have grown and diversified. My first meeting was held in the basement of an old school; we sat in student desks and I bet there weren’t 25 people there. Today we meet in conference centers, in multiple rooms, as we have taken on so much more over the years. So bottom line – the way it has diversified and adapted/changed and grown in an ongoing effort to meet and in some cases foresee the needs of the volunteer fire service.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with the NVFC?
Watching and being a part of the changes that are happening in the volunteer fire service because we are speaking out and taking action. Watching our actions changing lives and saving lives of both victims and first responders. Meeting with truly giving people across the country [that are] manning the fire houses we have visited with. And lastly, the wealth of experience and knowledge that lies within our meeting ranks.

How has the volunteer fire service evolved since you first joined?
From equipment changes (apparatus to PPE) through research, development, and technology to changes in the incidents we respond to and the ways we do our jobs; training demands and hours required have increased as well as political climate and mindset changes as we navigate to put best practices into place for volunteers from The Silent Generation to Generation Z.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Gratitude. Gratitude for the people I have worked with, the knowledge I have gained, the experiences I have had, the changes I have been a part of. This experience and the people I have been blessed to work with and know have left a lasting impression on my mind and in my life.

Interested in serving your community? Find volunteer fire service opportunities at www.makemeafirefighter.org