New fire chief pleased with welcome

Greg Hoeger replaces Gary Willis in Hood River

Hood River’s new fire chief has been busy the last two weeks meeting emergency responders throughout the Gorge — and he is thoroughly impressed with the warm welcome he has received.

“I’ve found acceptance rather quickly and everyone has been friendly and receptive,” said Greg Hoeger, who arrived from the City of Sacramento Fire Department on March 1. He replaces Gary Willis, who stepped down to devote his full-time energy to the family’s pear industry.

Hoeger, 52, is a second generation firefighter who is familiar with all aspects of the job. He followed in his father’s footsteps, who also served in Sacramento, and took up the challenge of public safety in a department that included more than 500 other firefighters, eventually working his way up to assistant fire marshal.

“I think I was brought up on it, there was always the smell of smoke in our house,” said Hoeger, who will now oversee 15 volunteers and 13 staffers.

He said although it was difficult to leave family (including four grown children) and friends behind, both he and his wife, Angela, were excited about living in a city with “no graffiti, clean streets and friendly people.” They were especially thrilled with the opportunity to raise their youngest daughter, Alexandra, 5, in a “hometown” environment.

Although the rural department is small, Hoeger said he is impressed with the dedication of the personnel and the high skill levels that are reflective of Willis’ emphasis on training.

“What I have found here is that everyone on the fire department is enthusiastic about their work. They are here because they want to be,” said Hoeger.

Because of Hoeger’s experience in all aspects of firefighting, including administration, Lynn Guenther, city manager, said he was chosen from 12 other applicants for the position that pays a $65,000 annual salary.

Hoeger said he doesn’t intend to make any changes to the fire department’s operations until he has thoroughly learned the system.

He describes his management style as “inclusive” and plans to include input from his personnel in decision-making and allow each individual to acquire a field of expertise.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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