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Ronan celebrates firefighters

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RONAN — The Ronan Volunteer Fire Department recently celebrated both active and retired fire fighter volunteers who work to keep their community safe. 

A closed event, the Firemen’s Banquet invites all active volunteers, their spouses, and surviving retirees to come and celebrate. It also gives them a reason to get together, Fire Chief and Mayor Chris Adler explained. The city council and rural boards are invited as well, as they’re the governing agencies and Ronan combines their city and rural fire response entities. 

Attendees begin with a happy hour and then enjoy a catered dinner, provided by a different business each year chosen by the membership. The gathering culminates in the presenting of a variety of awards. Volunteers receive an award for each five years of service as well as recognition for those who had the most training hours or fought the most fires. A few lighthearted awards go out as well, such as the worst driver award and grouchiest fireman award. Adler laughed as he confessed he’s been the recipient of the grouchy award 14 times. The big award of the night, the “Piss Pump award,” goes to the most valuable firefighter as voted on by the membership. A travelling award, the plaque has names on it going back to the 1980s.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for the retired guys,” Adler stated. Between trucks freezing up and old trucks without side windows letting snow blow in during blizzards, Adler’s heard some impressive stories. “The way that they used to have to fight fires, we have nothing to complain about nowadays. They had it pretty rough back in the day.”

The department also recently saw the retirement of former Fire Chief Mark Clary. He was celebrated during the banquet with talks of both his high points and an embarrassing moment or two. “His heart was in it for many years. I remember when he joined, and he’s been a team player throughout his career in the fire department. He’ll be missed,” Adler commented. Clary will continue to be involved in the department in some capacity going forward. 

“(The banquet) is something that the spouses can be involved in too because they’re putting up with this as much as the firemen do, if not more,” Adler said. “They’re in the middle of a Christmas dinner and the fire alarm goes off, or a birthday party or whatever. That’s what volunteers do.”

One important aspect of volunteer firefighting Adler relays to those interested in becoming a volunteer is that not everyone goes inside the burning building, that’s only half of the team. The other half of the volunteers are back in the trucks pulling levers, getting tools, hooking up hydrants, or going back to town to fill up the tanker again. “They’re just as important as the guy on the inside. If the guy on the outside can’t get you water, you’re doing nothing on the inside,” Adler commented. “Everybody has this hype that you’re coming out of this flaming building like they do on TV, and there’s other parts of the fire service that are equally, if not more important.”

Adler joined the fire department back in 1990 at the urging of his friends. He’d had no family involved in the fire department, but they talked him into applying and giving it a try. Now 33 years later, Adler said he’s still happy to be involved. He said, “Become a volunteer. It’s a good way to give back to your community and it’s really rewarding and there are some benefits to it as well.”

The state has a retirement program set up, via the Volunteer Firefighters’ Compensation Act of 1965, to help support volunteer firefighters who have put in a certain number of years of service. To learn more about this program, visit:

To learn more about getting involved with the Ronan Volunteer Fire Department or to apply to become a volunteer, go online to:

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