SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Jaws-of-Life Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
By Louise Brinck Harrington


February 04, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Though the celebration went of without a hitch, it was not your typical ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It was a ceremony of traditions-both old and new.

District One Representative Jim Elkins took time from his legislative duties to come and do the honors cutting the yellow fire-scene ribbon. But no ribbon before or since has been cut with a jaws-of-life, a hydraulic tool for extracting people from car wrecks.

"I was surprised how easy they were to work," Elkins said, referring to the jaws-of-life. "The handles are designed right so you don't feel the weight."

jpg Ribbon Cutting

District One Representative Jim Elkins has the honors of cutting
the ribbon with the jaws-of-life, a hydraulic tool for extracting people from car wrecks. Standing next to Rep. Elkins is NTVFD Fire Board Chairman Steve Phillips.
Photograph by Dick Kauffman

This new North Tongass tradition is one that hopefully will last many years into the future. (The department has plans to open another station later this year.)

Representative Elkins also toured the new North Tongass Volunteer fire station, which is a 50 X 100 foot steel building.

"Driving in, it's real obvious the driveway needs some work," Elkins said. "We gotta get you some money for the driveway." Elkins added, however, that he was proud of and impressed with the new facility.

Then, not to be outdone, Chairman of the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Board Steve Phillips held another cutting ceremony: He cut the 22 X 30-inch cake with a four-foot shiny-red fire ax.

This was the "old" North Tongass tradition: This was the same ax Phillips used to cut the cake when the Fire Department celebrated its first anniversary.

jpg cutting the cake

Fire Board Chairman Steve Phillips uses the same ax to cut the cake as was used when the Fire Department celebrated its first anniversary.
Photograph by Dick Kauffman

Fire Chief Dave Hull spoke to the audience and thanked several people who volunteered or helped in various ways with the building: Chuck Pool of Pool Engineering, Mike Jurczak of Ketchikan Mechanical, Rick Ruaro and Dennis Pope of First City Electric and others.

Fire Board Chairman Steve Phillips introduced local dignitaries Representative Elkins, Borough Mayor Joe Williams and former Borough Mayor Mike Salazar.

Phillips also thanked Elkins for getting a $750,000 state grant for the construction of the building. "Jim Elkins did a tremendous amount of work," said Phillips. "He went against his party bosses because they didn't want to send the money down here."

Phillips emphasized that without Jim Elkins's effort, the funding would not have been received and the new building not been built.

Former Fire Board Chairman John Harrington estimated that "close to 100 people" attended the gathering and helped celebrate with a piece of fire-ax-cut cake.


Louise Brinck Harrington is an author and
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska