Coyle Residents, Our Fire Station needs your help! – Message from Norman Johnson

Neighbors on the Toandos Peninsula,

As many of you already know, we are desperately under-staffed at our local volunteer fire and emergency services station in Coyle. Currently we have only one person living in Coyle who can drive the truck or aid car and fight fires, but NO emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to give immediate aid.  The Quilcene Fire Station is staffed 24/7, but it could take them up to 30 minutes to get to us in our time of need. That could mean the difference between life and death, or in saving a home or having it burn to the ground.
We need your help to rebuild a local volunteer fire and aid service in our own Coyle community.  If you are willing to help, here is what you would need to do.
1. Qualifications:  We need men and women over 18 years old (no upper age limit), and able to do some amount of physical work such as lifting and carrying patients, hoses, ladders, tools, etc.  The more volunteers we have, the lighter the load is on any one of them.  We are seeking to find 2 EMT’s and 2-4 others to train as firefighters, or drivers, or just support staff to fill out our station.
2. Training:  There are various levels of certification that you can attain:
– basic firefighting instruction: All new volunteers will start with a 24 hour “fundamentals” class. This gives you the basics of what you need to know to volunteer and to keep yourselves safe.
– Drivers Training: to drive the aid cars and/or the fire engines an 8 hour Emergency Vehicle Incident Prevention (EVIP) class is required.  At the completion of the EVIP class we have you pass a rodeo test or driving test.
– Emergency Medical Technician. EMT classes are held at the new Station 11 in Chimacum (corner of Center Road and Rhody Drive}. The next class starts the first week of January and ends at the end of March.  Classes are Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6:00-9:00 and 8:00-5:00 on Saturdays. There is also some ambulance ride time, and hospital time, and at home study time. The typical student spends about 6 hours of study time at home each week. After the class concludes the student then needs to challenge the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician test.  This valuable certification is recognized everywhere in the US.  This class normally costs $ 750, but at this time the Department is willing to pay your cost of tuition for Coyle residents to become volunteers.
3. Continuing Education and Drills: After becoming a volunteer we expect attendance at our Tuesday evening drills, which are usually conducted at Quilcene Station 21. We drill the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Tuesdays of the month 6:30-9:00. Volunteer firefighters get  the same training that full time members get, no cutting corners! Interior qualified firefighters do regular training with the other Jefferson County fire districts. Drivers need an annual 2-4 hour refresher class. EMT’s need 30 hours a year of continuing education either by attending our EMS drills or working through a computer service we have for training.
4. The Workload in Coyle: Typical calls on the Toandos Peninsula include: smoke investigations, wires down, smoke coming from a home, overturned boat, sickness/injuries in the home, traffic collisions, etc.  Besides responding to calls we also need to maintain the Coyle station, clean and repair equipment every once in a while. Vehicles need washing at times. The rate of calls for the Coyle station has been around 50 per year or once or twice a week on the average.
5. Compensation: We pay our members a stipend for their participation. Basically they get a “point” for every call they go on, every training session they attend, or other FD event. These points are general worth about $8.00-$9.00 each and we pay out quarterly. So, a volunteer who responds to 10 calls and 10 training events in a quarter gets 20 points or earns about $170.00 minus taxes to help cover their expenses. Of course, the more active ones make more money. The stipend is intended to reimburse for expenses, not make someone rich. We also pay a per diem for members who just hang out at the station and give us a hand and run calls with us.  They won’t get rich but it’s a great community service.
We have the equipment right here in Coyle, but currently we don’t have the people to use it.  We have Fire Engine 22 (larger engine for structure fires), Brush Truck 22 (smaller engine for brushfires and able to enter less accessible driveways), and Aid Car 22 (ambulance).
What is preventing you from helping out?  Sometimes little nagging voices in our own heads keep us from volunteering with thoughts of “I’m not skilled enough.”,  I’m not fit enough.”, or “I don’t have the time.”   . . . But if not you, then who?   In a real emergency having a person there regardless of their level of skill is better than having no one there.  Think about it.   What if you call 911 and no one shows up?
What’s in it for you? Camaraderie: there is a certain closeness among the men and women who work together for a common cause.  Just ask anyone who has been a volunteer firefighter.  There is no better way of getting to know your neighbors.  Fire stations often become the heart of a small community like ours because of the importance of their function and the need to know their community.  It is the center of communications, not just about emergency situations, but about everything going on in our community that affects our daily lives. You can be a part of that network.

For more information contact: Larry Karp, Fire Chief,

Quilcene Fire Rescue, 70 Herbert Street, #433, Quilcene, WA 98376
(Office) 360-765-3333, (Cell) 360-774-3024
Thank you.
                          Your neighbor
                          Norm Johnson
                          83 Hazel Point Court
                          Home Phone (360) 765-3449

Article: Composing community – Levy vote supports Coyle concert venue

Viviann Kuehl article, Port Townsend Leader

Norm Johnson is proud to host free concerts by visiting musicians every month at the Coyle Laurel B. Johnson Community Center. Photo by Viviann Kuehl

Norm Johnson is proud to host free concerts by visiting musicians every month at the Coyle Laurel B. Johnson Community Center. Photo by Viviann Kuehl


Norm Johnson, the smilingly soft-spoken impresario of his chosen neighborhood, is in high spirits after the passing of a levy supporting Coyle parks and recreation.

It makes it easy for him, along with several community groups, to continue to serve local residents.

Technically, Coyle isn’t recognized as a town. There are no stores, gas stations, restaurants or even a post office.

The 200 or so people living on the Toandos Peninsula look to the Laurel B. Johnson Community Center as the only public gathering place and the hub of community activities.

The center, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, supports a weekly food bank day with lunch and a produce exchange for everyone (not just those in need), club meetings, a Jefferson County Library bookmobile stop, special events, a potable water source, garden space with deer fencing and free concerts.

“So many good things happen here because of the community center,” says Johnson.

Judging by the 75 percent approval of the replacement maintenance and operations levy for the Coyle Community Center and Jefferson County Park and Recreation District 1 (Coyle/Thorndyke) on April 23, the community agrees. The 164-to-56 vote approved a property tax increase of 15 cents or less per $1,000 valuation to raise about $20,000 to keep the center open for the next six years.

That means Johnson, a retired analytical chemist, can continue putting on free monthly concerts for anyone who cares to come.

Unlikely artist

Johnson came to music as a nonmusician during his 37 years of residence on Bainbridge Island. He became interested while sitting at his young daughter’s piano lessons and later he got involved with the Island Music Guild, eventually becoming the only nonmusician president of the group.

“I didn’t know anything about music, but I was baking cookies, taking tickets, running the PA system, setting up and folding up chairs at concerts,” says Johnson. “I enjoyed helping musicians perform their music and I realized there’s a need for that.”

He met a lot of musicians, learned about publicity and composing press releases, creating advertisements and promotional posters, and compiling mailing lists.

During this time Johnson and his wife Sol, a nurse, found the perfect weekend getaway on the Coyle. But when they bought it, they didn’t know about the Community Center, Johnson says.

“When I finally figured out what it was, I asked the building manager, ‘Does anybody ever do music there?’” Johnson recalls. “He says, ‘We’d love to have some music.’”

That’s all it took. Johnson began to book musicians.

The original intention was to provide entertainment for friends and neighbors, but people have come from as far as Port Angeles and Keyport to hear musicians perform in a space with good acoustics and none of the distractions of food/drink service.

“One of the things I really like here is the audience that comes is a listening audience,” says Johnson.

Coyle hospitality

The first free concert in September 2009 had an audience of 14. By spring 2010, Johnson had settled into an “every third Saturday” schedule. Now a small turnout is 20, he says. Last February, Abby Mae & the Homeschool Boysplayed to a standing room only audience (more than 60) and on April 20 about 40 people were on hand to hear award-winning musical duo Montana Skies.

“Amazingly, we do we get a good audience,” says Johnson. “You wouldn’t think you would get that good a turnout, but we do. For a little community center in the middle of nowhere, to get that kind of turnout is really amazing.”

The musicians are appreciative, he says.

At first he had to call out favors from old friends, but after artists and audiences began sharing stories of their experiences, that changed.

“Most of my bookings now are people who call me,” Johnson says.

Classical cellists, blues bands, country western style, folk singers and others have enjoyed the setting and Johnson’s hospitality.

He provides a meal with the show, and if needed, free lodging as well.

“I have the space, so I can do that,” says Johnson, who is nearly finished building a home where he and his wife plan to retire.

The couple keeps their getaway cabin for housing visitors.

“I always enjoy meeting the people,” says Johnson. “It’s always interesting to hear their adventures and I enjoy meeting new friends.”

Johnson gives help, along with advice, on their journeys. Sometimes musicians stay a few days because of travel plans, or to work out lyrics, or even to catch up on sleep and laundry during a tour.

Now even agents ask if Johnson would like to have their clients at Coyle.

“Nationally recognized bands come out here in the middle of the forest just because it’s a good place to perform,” says Johnson. “Oddly enough, the center has good acoustics. It’s a live space.”

Attentive audience

An appreciative, listening audience is also important, and there is always a donation jar, and perhaps CD sales, to make the economics work, Johnson says. “People out here are very generous, and make it worthwhile for musicians to come.”

Johnson very much appreciates the way people help each other and know each other in a rural setting, as they do on the Coyle, and where he grew up.

To show his appreciation, Johnson always has cookies and coffee at intermission, knowing that people like to get together and see their neighbors, especially in the context of beautiful music.

“This feels like home now,” says Johnson. “It’s the best venue of anything I’ve ever done.”

Article: Composing community – Levy vote supports Coyle concert venue

About the Board Members

~ Back to P&R District #1 Main Page

Larry Robinson, Board President and Building Manager
Larry is a volunteer firefighter for Jefferson Fire District, 2 driving the fire truck and aid car. For many years and up until 2016, Larry and his wife Pat organized an auxiliary food bank at the Laurel B. Johnson Community Center. Larry worked on packing, delivering, sorting and distributing the food items that were donated. In 2009 Larry was given the Jefferson County Heart of Service award.
Richard Hull, Treasurer
Richard and his wife, Sheila, have owned property in Coyle since 1983 and have been full time residents here since 2006.  They have a son who lives in Japan. Richard grew up in Shoreline, King County, WA and graduated from the University of Washington. He retired from his job as a college microbiology professor in 2006. Richard also currently serves on the Jefferson County Clean Water District Advisory Council and the Jefferson County Land Use Planning Commission.
Gary Elmer
A retired University of Washington professor (Medicinal Chemistry), he and his wife, Jacqueline Gardner, have owned property in Coyle for about 15 years. Gary volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, the Coyle Community Club and has served as a Jefferson County Parks and Recreation District 1 commissioner since May 2011. He is particularly interested in establishing a sport court at the Coyle Community Center that would provide recreational opportunities for the youth of this community.
Dennis Schmitt
Dennis moved to Quilcene from San Diego CA, 12 years ago.  He has been married to his wife, Cherylann, for over 50 years and they have 5 grown sons.  Dennis retired as a material handling engineer with over 40 years in the industry. His interests are gardening, nature studies and boating. He feels privileged to be living in this location.
Cathy Bohman
Since becoming full-time Coyle residents in October 2011, Cathy and her husband, HR, have enjoyed exploring the Olympic Peninsula and sharing their discoveries with their children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. Cathy relaxes with kayaking, sailing, reading, traveling and the creative arts.  As part of the P&R Board, Cathy strives to maintain our Community Center as a vital resource for the safety and well-being of our community, and as a gathering place to strengthen relationships among neighbors.