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Wayne Post
  • Koster’s years as a firefighter “a great ride”

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  • Brian Koster has decided not to run for Chief again in 2014. He has been in the Chief's office for 10 years and a firefighter for 41. He will continue to function as a firefighter in a more limited capacity.
    Brian's mom clipped an ad and application from the Suburban News in 1972 for the Chili Fire Department and said "I think you should do this". His first call was an accident at an intersection near his home. The Battalion Chief handed him a baby that wasn't breathing. Koster recalls this vividly, and worked hard to help the men he led years later to deal with this type of crisis.
    Brian worked at Kodak for 35 years, first in construction, and then into one of the country's best industrial fire department at Kodak, rising to the rank of Deputy Chief. 24 of his 28 years at Clifton where he moved in 1986 have been as an officer. Volunteering itself has given him the strength and courage to educate yourself and build confidence in entering circumstances that you had no control over. Learning and developing from the mistakes you make.
    When asked if he will miss it he replied that "if you love something, you will always miss it, so yes". But it's time for other to have the same opportunities I have had. Koster is also retiring from LeFrois Construction where he is a site superintendent. 42 years of working in the weather, and some tough conditions have added to his decision.
    The worst call he remembers is on Chili Riga Center Road, when, for an unknown reason a motorcycle crossed the center line and was struck by a pickup truck. There was nothing that could be done for the man, and like years earlier wanted to protect his men from the trauma they were there for. Witnesses and neighbors were also in distress. "It was a tough call". The other noteable call that comes to mind was an accident on Humphrey Road where five kids were trapped down an embankment in an overturned car. We had to remove deceased bodies to get to the ones we had a chance at saving.
    The biggest change he's noticed in the fire department over the years is the acceptance and development of safety for firefighters. Better technology and testing, better and mandatory training, and the change of the mentality in firefighter safety. "The best place to ride a firetruck was on the tailboard" recalls Koster, but you can't do that anymore. He's also seen a decrease in volunteerism. Families need two incomes, and there aren't trick workers like there used to be. With the increased training requirements that is now mandated by the state, it puts a strain on new members. Having fewer members puts more strain on the older members having to try and pick up the slack. This problem is not just a Clifton problem, it exists all over the state and the country.
    Page 2 of 2 - The satisfaction of being a chief, and a volunteer is the successful or best possible conclusion of an incident. "It's been a great ride" said Koster, adding that he "hopes that he has given back positively to the organizations he has served".
    During his dual retirement, he plans on giving more attention to his home and garden, his kids and grandchildren. He has been rumored to be the next coach of the Chili F/D. softball team and will staying on as Vice President of the Monroe County Chief's Association where he focuses on recognizing firefighters and fire departments for bravery, courage and outstanding work to the community.

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