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Jared Redmon and a fellow student volunteer were first on the scene to the fire 

COURTESY PHOTO - Jared Redmon (left) and Noah Wierstra helped extinguish a fire at a food bank in Woodburn.

Wilsonville High School graduate Jared Redmon likes the fact that working for a fire department means that he never knows what the upcoming day has in store.

Some days, his 24-hour shifts are quiet. And others, like last Monday, Aug. 16, he's faced with his biggest challenge yet.

As reported by the North Marion School District, Redmon, along with his roommate and fellow college student and resident volunteer for the Woodburn Fire District Noah Wierstra, were the first respondents to a fire at the AWARE Food Bank in Woodburn and helped save the historic building from ruin.

After graduating Wilsonville High in 2018, Redmon entered the emergency medical technician and fire science program at Chemeketa Community College. While still in school, he joined the Woodburn Fire District as a volunteer in 2019 and has earned more responsibilities since then.

"For me, I figured I wasn't the kind of person who was going to be satisfied with your typical 9-to-5 job. What drew me to it was the ability to help people. I figured I'd give it a shot. After volunteering, I fell in love with it," Redmon said.

Now, one of his responsibilities is to be the driver of what they call the student engine. At around 3:21 p.m. Aug. 16, he and Wiestra got a call that a structure was on fire in downtown Woodburn. So Redmon blared the sirens and quickly drove to the scene to find heavy smoke from the roof and visible flames at the corner of the building.

According to reporting from the Statesman Journal, a man was later charged with arson after allegedly flicking a cigarette into a bush next to the food bank.

COURTESY PHOTO - Firefighters respond to the fire at the Woodburn food bank.

Redmon was tasked with ensuring that the pumps were flowing with water so Wiestra and, later, others could put it out.

"Although I've been driving the engine, this was my first major fire where it was just me and I was the one who had the responsibility of being the one pumping all the water," he said. "It's nerve-racking knowing the ultimate responsibility of everyone's safety is in my hands."

Redmon added that it's easy to have tunnel vision and try to respond as quickly as you can, but that you need to remember to trust your training and go through the proper protocols. Redmon had to quickly secure the engine to a local water source before the initial water supply ran dry in just a couple minutes. After Redmon and Wierstra started the job, other fire engines reached the scene and helped extinguish the fire in under an hour. The food bank incurred some damage but was able to reopen a few days later, Redmon said.

"The reason it was saved was due to the quick response and the ability to put water on the fire quickly," he said.

Though the event was a high-pressure situation, Redmon's anxiety was eased in knowing Wierstra was there alongside him.

"Part of the reason we were successful is because we've worked and lived together before. It's that calm of knowing who is by my side," Redmon said.

Redmon is collecting firefighting certifications during his time at the fire district and his goal is to become a full-time paramedic.

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