By Yvonne Moen
Friends and members from the Terrace and Thornhill fire departments, mayor Carol Leclerc, city councillor Lynne Christiansen and City Freeman Bill McRae and wife Helene gathered at the seniors social held at the Terrace Pentecostal Church Dec. 16 to help celebrate Clifford Best’s 85th birthday.
The mayor presented him with a certificate to mark his birthday and to show the city’s appreciation for his years of service as its fire chief. A birthday cake was provided by the city.
Best served the City of Terrace for more than 30 years, the last 17 as fire chief.
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Dec. 16, 1930, Best was three when his family moved to a farm near MacDonald, Saskatchewan where he went to school. Best then moved to Terrace in the fall of 1948 at the age of 17 where he worked at the Pohle Lumber Five Mille Mill, Terrace Transfer, the Imperial Oil bulk plant and at Reum Motors before becoming a career firefighter.
He fell in love and married Trudy (Erickson) September 2, 1953 at the Pentecostal church on Lazelle Avenue. They have four daughters, Wanda, Barbara, Betty and Cindy.
Best joined the Terrace Volunteer Fire Department in February 1952. In 1957 Best became a career firefighter with the federal transport department, first undergoing training at a military firefighting school in Ontario and then more training, which included rescue training, with the navy in Victoria. Best returned to Terrace where he was put in charge of starting a fire and rescue department at the Terrace/Kitimat airport.
From there Best returned to a job as a city firefighter in 1960, becoming chief in February 1974.
In June 1974, the B.C. Fire Marshall’s Office appointed him Senior Fire Officer for the Prince Rupert Zone. When the provincial government took over the ambulance service in 1974, he was named unit chief for Terrace and area. He held that position until the new ambulance building was built in 1985. Up until then, the ambulance service was located in the fire hall and was a function of the fire department.
As the city’s fire chief, he was appointed by the B.C. forest service as a fire prevention officer and he also held the position of deputy area co-ordinator for the Provincial Emergency Program for several years. Professionally, Best was a member or several provincial and national associations connected with his duties. In 1969 he was appointed local assistant to the provincial fire commissioner’s office, a position he held for 22 years.
Best received the B.C. Government Service Medal for Years of Service and the Fire Service Exemplary Service Medal for 30 years of service to Canada from the Governor General of Canada.
There’s mandatory retirement for fire personnel at the age of 60 so at the end of December 1990, Best ended a long and valuable career.