Fire department swears in the ranks, gets ready for renovations

April 2, 2011


Firefighter Paul Doyle shakes hands with Mayor Arthur Babitz, while Chief Devon Wells congratulates firefighter Bob Camillucci at Wednesday’s ceremony. At left is firefighter Rebecca Gehrman.

The last event in the Hood River fire hall was a first.

Family and friends attended Wednesday's swearing-in of 22 paid and volunteer firefighters.

"We've never done this before, and we hope to make it a regular event," said Chief Devon Wells, standing in front of the fire engine that would serve as a backdrop for the honors.

"We are proud to honor you and what you do," Wells said.

Mayor Arthur Babitz added, "Let's have a round of applause for the families, because this also recognizes the support they give our firefighters," after he performed the service oath ceremony.

(See the full list at the end of this story.)

"This is pretty special. It makes us feel wanted," said Recruit Rebecca Gehrman, who also volunteers with Odell Fire Department and plans a career in fire service. "It takes a lot of training and hard work to be a volunteer, but we really enjoy the things we get to do as firefighters, the training and the tasks. And I have really gotten a lot out of the people. I've met so many great people doing this."

The last of the 22 personnel to take the oath was Division Chief Peter Mackwell, who was recently appointed fire marshal.

"Peter has a big job ahead of him, doing inspection and fire code enforcement, given that we have not had a fire marshal position for several years," Wells said. Mackwell's position is funded by a two-year, $175,000 SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. SAFER stands for Staffing Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.

Within a few weeks, the fire hall will be emptied of the engines and other apparatus, the firefighting gear, and all equipment, to make way for the expansion of the facility, beginning later this month.

"We'll be moving to temporary quarters here in a couple of weeks, and while it won't be easy, we'll get through it," Wells said. "And by December we'll be moving back into a new fire station that will be a blessing for us and for the community."

The $4.5 million project is paid for by bonds approved by voters in 2008. Fire equipment will be stored in tents across the street from the fire hall, in the public works yard. Trailers will be set up at the location to serve as offices and on-duty crew quarters.

In addition to Mackwell, these volunteers and employees were sworn in:

2010-11 recruits: Bob Camillucci, Kevin Deutsche, Paul Doyle, Rebecca Gehrman, Alex Hauser, Garth Levin, Suzanne Lusk, Adam Mack and Gary Stallings

Current volunteers (2005-10): Will Atkinson, Michelle Beaman, Walter Burkhardt, Joe Correa, Ellen Dittebrandt, Brady Lane, Kip Miller and Vanessa VandenBos

Volunteer lieutenants: Trent Hightower and Nathan Smith

Engineer/paramedics: Anthony DePinto and Jay Geraci

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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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