Union leader and Kent, WA Local 1747 member Terry McCartin, 62, is hanging up his turnout gear after more than 43 years on the job.
Because McCartin grew up along a major fire department response route in Bellingham, Washington, he watched fire apparatus pass his home every day. “That was all it took for me. I never wanted to do anything else,” he said.
Shortly after graduating high school, McCartin attended the local fire academy and joined the fire department and Kent Local 1747 in 1980.
As a fire fighter, McCartin always looked for ways to improve his skills and eventually rose through the ranks, serving 13 of his 43 years in the fire service in the fire prevention department. He retired as a captain at Fire Station 72.
“I went on several memorable calls, but the one that really sticks out was a five-alarm apartment complex fire. It was during my tenure in the fire prevention office, but I was still dispatched on the call,” said McCartin. “It turned out to be the apartments I lived in while I was in rookie school. It’s always sad when we lose a residence or apartment complex to fire, but it hits differently when the place [is somewhere you have lived].”
During his career, McCartin was very active within the union, holding many offices, including shift trustee, secretary, and vice president. But it was in his capacity as the local’s Political Action Committee (PAC) chair that he was able to have the most impact.
“Thanks to his influential relationships with elected officials, our local members enjoy one of the most desirable wage and benefit packages in the state. He was also influential in the creation of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority and the implementation of a permanent fire benefit charge,” said Local 1747 President Keven Rojecki. “Local 1747 members are grateful for everything he has done and wish him a happy, healthy retirement.”
McCartin’s efforts in the creation of the regional fire authority were instrumental in giving the fire department more say in budgetary matters. Regional fire authorities are managed by their own governance board and funded by a percentage of property taxes and a fire benefit charge.
He also played a crucial role in guaranteeing a consistent revenue stream for the fire authority by successfully campaigning for voters to renew the fire benefits charge every six years. And when the state legislature passed a law enabling a permanent benefits charge, McCartin successfully petitioned voters in 2021 to support its permanence, eliminating the need for reauthorization in the future.
In June 2023, McCartin was recognized for all of his contributions with the Ricky J. Walsh Fully Involved Award at the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters convention. The award honors those who have proven their commitment and placed others before themselves by dedicating time and energy to enhancing the value of their union.
“I can think of no one more worthy of recognition than Brother McCartin,” said 7th District Vice President and award namesake Ricky Walsh. “From his first day of the job, he stayed dedicated to the profession and his fellow union members. On behalf of the 7th District, thank you for all you have done and congratulations on a well-deserved retirement.”
General President Edward Kelly recognized McMartin’s longtime commitment to the fire service.
“After more than four decades of service, Brother McCartin is well-deserving of a happy retirement,” Kelly said. “We are grateful for his service to our brothers and sisters on the job and wish him all the best. Thank you for a job well done.”