Former Terrace fire chief Cliff Best (left) celebrates his 85th birthday in 2015 alongside his wife, Trudy Best (right), and current fire chief John Klie. (File photo)

Former Terrace fire chief passes away

Clifford Best served as a firefighter for over 30 years

Former Terrace Fire Department chief Clifford Best passed away April 2.

Best, 89, retired in 1990 after 16 years as a chief and 30 years altogether fighting fires in the Terrace area.

His wife, Trudy Best, said the family held a very small service April 9, and they hope to have a larger celebration of life once the threat of COVID-19 is over.

“We don’t know when it’ll be. It doesn’t sound good. We might have to wait a year to do it,” she said. “It’s something we wanted to have for him, and something he probably would’ve really liked. He was a people-person. He loved people, and he loved to talk, and we miss that.”

The pair spent much of their retirement years traveling in their motor home visiting their four children, five grandchildren, and plenty of other family and friends.

“He’s from Saskatchewan and so Saskatchewan beckoned every year, and our children lived in the Lower Mainland, and the grandkids,” she said.

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 of 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.

– with files from Yvonne Moen



jake.wray@terracestandard.com
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