Nelson Rolens was selected as Corbett Fire District's (CFD) 2018 Officer of the Year, and Tim Sherman was named the district's Firefighter of the Year.
Both were selected by votes from their fellow fire personnel. The CFD awards were presented at the district's annual banquet on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Multnomah Falls Lodge on the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Rolens, who joined CFD in 2009, has remodeled houses, done marine upholstery work and worked on the crew of professional ocean-racing sailboats.
He is using those skills to help the fire department by adding a battery-powered engine to the department's "elk cart." The one-wheeled apparatus was designed to haul elk carcasses back to hunting camps, said Corbett Fire Chief Dave Flood. Instead, however, rescuers use it to transport lost hikers.
"It's great for moving patients over rough terrain," Flood said.
The device doesn't usually need more power because the majority of trail rescues only require pushing lost hikers downhill.
"(However) there's occasionally times we have to push a hiker up a hill," Flood said, "and it's not very fun to push a 200-pound person up a hill."
Sherman joined CFD in 2016, making him the least experienced volunteer firefighter ever to get the nod for Firefighter of the Year. His life skills got him well acquainted to serving as an emergency responder quickly.
Most volunteer firefighters with only two-and-a half-years of experience are still learning the ropes, Flood said, but Sherman works as if he were a department veteran.
"He is super calm in a crisis," Flood said. "If you were on a call with him, you'd think he'd been with us for 15 or 20 years."
Sherman retired as a Sediment Quality Specialist from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2010. Six years later, he decided to take up firefighting as a retirement activity.
Flood said the pair both provide great service to the all-volunteer fire department.
"Nelson is a valuable steady presence in an emergency situation," Flood said. "Tim's impressive life experiences quickly made him an important and respected member of our department. We couldn't be more proud of these firefighters. They epitomize the public service and our proud 70-year commitment to protecting Corbett and the Western Columbia River Gorge."
About Corbett Fire
The Corbett Fire District coverage area stretches east of the Sandy River to Multnomah Falls and from south of the Columbia River to Clackamas County, parts of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, several Oregon State Parks and Recreation Areas, U.S. Forest Service lands, Interstate 84 and unincorporated communities of Corbett, Springdale, Aims, Latourell, Bridal Veil and Coopey Falls.
District firefighters respond from three volunteer fire stations in Corbett, Springdale and Aims.
For more information about the Corbett Fire District, visit www.corbettfire.com.
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