Gresham Fire rings retirement bell
Last week a bell tolled twice outside Gresham City Hall.
The ringing was in honor of two people who dedicated a quarter of a century each to serving the community as members of Gresham Fire & Emergency Services. The new tradition recognized firefighters Dianna Pelster and Joe Costigan Friday afternoon, June 28.
"We both started with Gresham fire together, so it's fitting that we are retiring together," Pelster said.
The event was attended by current and retired firefighters, families, friends and community members who wanted to thank Pelster and Costigan for their service.
They were presented with a framed copy of their first day logs, their helmets, folded flags which flew over their stations — Gresham Station 76 for Pelster and Station 72 for Costigan — on their last day, and their final paycheck.
"Both have selflessly given so much for the citizens," said Gresham Fire Chief Mitch Snyder.
Pelster was the first woman hired by Gresham Fire & Emergency Services to retire after 25 years, while Costigan was an integral part of Gresham Fire's Hazmat Team.
It was the ringing of the bell by a member of the Gresham Fire Honor Guard that marked the new retirement tradition. The bell used to wake volunteer firefighters. Now it sounds for those who worked hard protecting the community.
"This bell signaled to all, that the fire was out and the job was done," Snyder said.
To conclude the ceremony, Pelster and Costigan left in "Old Betsy," a 1928 fire engine that was the first motorized vehicle the city of Gresham purchased.
The Gresham Fire & Emergency Services bell, which is now used to honor retirees, began its life in the eastern U.S.
The 445-pound bell was cast in 1906 in Baltimore by the McShane Bell Foundry CO. It was brought to Gresham as a way to wake volunteer firefighters during emergencies, until becoming obsolete with the implementation of electric sirens and pagers.
Early photos of Gresham's first City Hall on Roberts Avenue in 1912 show the bell in the tower. It later moved into the second City Hall building on Powell Boulevard in 1952.
In 1979, after Gresham opened its current City Hall, the bell was gifted to the Gresham Historical Society and was left in a field for a short period of time, until it was requested to ring in honor of National Senior Citizens Day. The bell now lives in the Gresham headquarters fire station.
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