Stoney Creek firefighter Jim Koudys hangs up gear after more than 37 years

Community Sep 24, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Between immediate and extended relatives, Jim Koudys estimates there’s close to 300 years of firefighting experience in his family.

His grandfather, Joe Woodlife, and father were volunteers. Since then, more than a dozen family members have served or continue to serve in either a volunteer or full-time capacity.

Today Koudys, 55, is retiring after more than 37 years in firefighting. Starting as a volunteer in 1982, he switched to full-time in 1987 at Winona’s Station 2, where he served as a district chief.

Following amalgamation with the City of Hamilton, Koudys worked at Station 9 on Kenilworth Avenue for a couple of years before moving to what’s now known as Station 12 on Highway 8, where he went back to running a rig as a captain.

Along with continuing a family tradition, Koudys first entered firefighting not just for a paycheque, but to serve his community. Koudys worked his last full shift Sept. 23.

“I get the satisfaction out of helping people and I enjoy that,” Koudys said. “It was a community service when it first started. We never got paid. We actually were volunteers. We did it just for the community when we started out.”

Looking back to the early 1980s, Koudys had dreams of playing NHL hockey.

Following a stellar junior career that included stints in Grimsby, Aurora and Sudbury, the offensive-minded defenseman was drafted in the 12th round, 252nd overall by the New York Islanders in 1982.

He still has a scar sustained in training while finishing a check on Islanders’ great Bob Nystrom. But after three years of minor pro hockey – and an Islanders’ dynasty that needed few minor-league call-ups – by 1986 it was time to step away from the game.

Looking back, Koudys knows he made the right choice.

More recently, he made a similar decision to retire from firefighting in order to travel and spend more time with his family.

Although he knows it’s time, giving up a job he loves is tough.

“The thing about retiring from hockey is I can still go and play hockey,” said Koudys. “When I retire from here, I can’t go (fight) fire. It’s a little harder, emotional change for me because I really love this job, I thought I was really good at this job. But I’m a senior guy now, and it’s time.”

Koudys has seen many changes over the course of 37 years, including scientific advancements in firefighting gear in the 1990s, hotter fires due to changing building materials, and a greater emphasis on fire prevention.

“I think fire the fire prevention (staff) has done a really good job on smoke detectors and informing young people on hazards,” said Koudys. “And fires are down, which is great.”

With structure fires accounting for a tiny fraction of firefighters’ calls, Koudys and his colleagues would often respond to medical calls and specialized assignments such as confined space and rope rescues.

Koudys is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Luanna, daughter, Jacqueline and son, Patrick.

While he’ll miss the job and his work colleagues, he has no regrets.

“The job has been really good to me,” said Koudys. “I’ve had really good crews, my whole career.”

Stoney Creek firefighter Jim Koudys hangs up gear after more than 37 years

Extended family has more than 300 years experience

Community Sep 24, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Between immediate and extended relatives, Jim Koudys estimates there’s close to 300 years of firefighting experience in his family.

His grandfather, Joe Woodlife, and father were volunteers. Since then, more than a dozen family members have served or continue to serve in either a volunteer or full-time capacity.

Today Koudys, 55, is retiring after more than 37 years in firefighting. Starting as a volunteer in 1982, he switched to full-time in 1987 at Winona’s Station 2, where he served as a district chief.

Following amalgamation with the City of Hamilton, Koudys worked at Station 9 on Kenilworth Avenue for a couple of years before moving to what’s now known as Station 12 on Highway 8, where he went back to running a rig as a captain.

Along with continuing a family tradition, Koudys first entered firefighting not just for a paycheque, but to serve his community. Koudys worked his last full shift Sept. 23.

“I get the satisfaction out of helping people and I enjoy that,” Koudys said. “It was a community service when it first started. We never got paid. We actually were volunteers. We did it just for the community when we started out.”

Looking back to the early 1980s, Koudys had dreams of playing NHL hockey.

Following a stellar junior career that included stints in Grimsby, Aurora and Sudbury, the offensive-minded defenseman was drafted in the 12th round, 252nd overall by the New York Islanders in 1982.

He still has a scar sustained in training while finishing a check on Islanders’ great Bob Nystrom. But after three years of minor pro hockey – and an Islanders’ dynasty that needed few minor-league call-ups – by 1986 it was time to step away from the game.

Looking back, Koudys knows he made the right choice.

More recently, he made a similar decision to retire from firefighting in order to travel and spend more time with his family.

Although he knows it’s time, giving up a job he loves is tough.

“The thing about retiring from hockey is I can still go and play hockey,” said Koudys. “When I retire from here, I can’t go (fight) fire. It’s a little harder, emotional change for me because I really love this job, I thought I was really good at this job. But I’m a senior guy now, and it’s time.”

Koudys has seen many changes over the course of 37 years, including scientific advancements in firefighting gear in the 1990s, hotter fires due to changing building materials, and a greater emphasis on fire prevention.

“I think fire the fire prevention (staff) has done a really good job on smoke detectors and informing young people on hazards,” said Koudys. “And fires are down, which is great.”

With structure fires accounting for a tiny fraction of firefighters’ calls, Koudys and his colleagues would often respond to medical calls and specialized assignments such as confined space and rope rescues.

Koudys is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Luanna, daughter, Jacqueline and son, Patrick.

While he’ll miss the job and his work colleagues, he has no regrets.

“The job has been really good to me,” said Koudys. “I’ve had really good crews, my whole career.”

Stoney Creek firefighter Jim Koudys hangs up gear after more than 37 years

Extended family has more than 300 years experience

Community Sep 24, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Between immediate and extended relatives, Jim Koudys estimates there’s close to 300 years of firefighting experience in his family.

His grandfather, Joe Woodlife, and father were volunteers. Since then, more than a dozen family members have served or continue to serve in either a volunteer or full-time capacity.

Today Koudys, 55, is retiring after more than 37 years in firefighting. Starting as a volunteer in 1982, he switched to full-time in 1987 at Winona’s Station 2, where he served as a district chief.

Following amalgamation with the City of Hamilton, Koudys worked at Station 9 on Kenilworth Avenue for a couple of years before moving to what’s now known as Station 12 on Highway 8, where he went back to running a rig as a captain.

Along with continuing a family tradition, Koudys first entered firefighting not just for a paycheque, but to serve his community. Koudys worked his last full shift Sept. 23.

“I get the satisfaction out of helping people and I enjoy that,” Koudys said. “It was a community service when it first started. We never got paid. We actually were volunteers. We did it just for the community when we started out.”

Looking back to the early 1980s, Koudys had dreams of playing NHL hockey.

Following a stellar junior career that included stints in Grimsby, Aurora and Sudbury, the offensive-minded defenseman was drafted in the 12th round, 252nd overall by the New York Islanders in 1982.

He still has a scar sustained in training while finishing a check on Islanders’ great Bob Nystrom. But after three years of minor pro hockey – and an Islanders’ dynasty that needed few minor-league call-ups – by 1986 it was time to step away from the game.

Looking back, Koudys knows he made the right choice.

More recently, he made a similar decision to retire from firefighting in order to travel and spend more time with his family.

Although he knows it’s time, giving up a job he loves is tough.

“The thing about retiring from hockey is I can still go and play hockey,” said Koudys. “When I retire from here, I can’t go (fight) fire. It’s a little harder, emotional change for me because I really love this job, I thought I was really good at this job. But I’m a senior guy now, and it’s time.”

Koudys has seen many changes over the course of 37 years, including scientific advancements in firefighting gear in the 1990s, hotter fires due to changing building materials, and a greater emphasis on fire prevention.

“I think fire the fire prevention (staff) has done a really good job on smoke detectors and informing young people on hazards,” said Koudys. “And fires are down, which is great.”

With structure fires accounting for a tiny fraction of firefighters’ calls, Koudys and his colleagues would often respond to medical calls and specialized assignments such as confined space and rope rescues.

Koudys is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Luanna, daughter, Jacqueline and son, Patrick.

While he’ll miss the job and his work colleagues, he has no regrets.

“The job has been really good to me,” said Koudys. “I’ve had really good crews, my whole career.”