Sunday, September 1, 2013


Joseph firefighters dismantled a truck cab with the Hurst Jaws of Life, some kids got a fire engine ride and recently retired Fire Chief Tom Clevenger was surprised with a long-delayed gift from the Costa Mesa, Calif., Fire Department.

There was plenty of action in the space of two hours Saturday, Aug. 31, at a Home Safety Fair co-sponsored by the Joseph Fire Department and Wallowa Lake Rural Fire Protection District.

Around 100 lake homeowners and vacationers who happened by also learned about the benefits of Life Flight memberships and inspected Joseph’s newest firefighting vehicles, the four-wheel-drive Engine 1 and Brush Truck 9, a converted military Humvee, as well as Wallowa Memorial Hospital’s new state-of-the-art ambulance.    

The Humvee and ambulance received lots of attention, but the biggest impression was made with a demonstration of the hydraulic Jaws of Life. Firefighters Clevenger and Bob Lion and Chief Jeffrey Wecks made quick work of a pickup cab, removing doors and the roof, turning the cab into what would have been a convertible if it wasn’t already wrecked.

Clevenger was the center of a short ceremony during which he was presented with a framed resolution of appreciation from the fire district’s board of directors and a traditional fire department retirement-badge wallet from Costa Mesa, where he was a career firefighter before moving here.

District Board President Chuck Anderson explained that the wallet had been intended to be presented to Clevenger upon his retirement but inexplicably wasn’t. Costa Mesa Interim Fire Chief Fred Seguin discovered the wallet as he was researching Clevenger’s employment records at Anderson’s request for the text of the resolution.

“I was honored to be the one to present the wallet and our resolution to Tom,” Anderson said afterward. “His contribution to the fire service in Wallowa County has been tremendous, and it was about time we let him know how much we appreciate him.”

Fire protection and rescue services in the Wallowa Lake basin are provided by Joseph Fire Department under a contract with the fire district.

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