Forest Grove Fire & Rescue marks 120 years with reminiscenses

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Old and new firefighters -- including former battalion chief Marvin Wright and Bob and Victor Haney -- mill around inside the Forest Grove Fire & Rescue station as they shared stories and paid tribute to 120 years of the departments operation in town.Fond reminiscences, pats on the back — and, of course, cake — were all part of the 120th birthday celebration at the Forest Grove Fire & Rescue fire station last Thursday.

"The coolest part of the afternoon for me was watching little circles of retired guys mixed in with newer firefighters, just listening to their stories," said Dave Nemeyer, FGF&R fire marshal. "Some of them were tragic, [and] some were so funny that guys' eyes were watering." by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - The yellow 1960s-era helmet (left) belonged to retired FGF&R captain Dwight Lanter, and the blue felt cap (right) is that of Walt Vandervelden, the departments first paid firefighter. Vandervelden was elected chief in 1928 and retired in 1963.

Former battalion chief and fire marshal Marvin Wright dropped by to rub elbows with his former colleagues, and Bob and Vic Haney, both former FGF&R volunteers, made the scene as well.

Darren Pang, a teacher at Neil Armstrong Middle School and a volunteer at the fire department in the 1980s, dropped in on the event to a rousing welcome.

On Aug. 16, 1968, the firefighters association spent some cash on donuts, flowers, coffee -- and beer, according toledgers and receipt books. Beer was rationed out after volunteer drill nights into the late 1980s, said Fire Marshal Dave Nemeyer."[It was] probably his first time at the fire station in years, and people were calling him by old nicknames," noted Nemeyer. "He was smiling big smiles when a photo of his old fire station dorm room showed up on the screen." Dave Neymeyer and News-Times publisher John Schrag enjoyed the party last Thursday.

About 50 people showed up Feb. 13 for the open house and "what was originally just going to be a few guys at the station with a piece of birthday cake," Nemeyer said.

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