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September 19, 2012     The Adams County Record
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September 19, 2012
 

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Page 8 Wednesday, September 19, 2012 The Adams County Record Community Spotlight And the Indian Valley Fire Department By Deb Wilson Tim Toomey, fire chief of the Indian Valley Fire Department (IVFD), commands a team of dedicated volunteers and the respect of a strong rural community. Established in 1950, the IVFD district covers nearly 77 square miles, with stations in Indian Valley, Mesa and Goodrich. They work fires with Midvale, Cambridge, Council and the US Forest Service, and belong to the Snake River Valley Chief's Association, sharing training with 23 other departments. Almost every year since 1975 Tim has filled the position, with all of its responsibility and paperwork. He tried to retire once, but returned when Michael Nourse had to leave for family needs. Knowledgeable and dedicated, he and his volunteers strive to maintain dependable equipment, functional fire stations, effective fire fighting and up to date training..It's a big job for a small department, and it takes people with enthusiasm and many different skills. Lightning sparks fires easily in the dry season, as it did with the current Wesley forest fire. Wildfires flare from campfires, fiats on multi-wheeled rigs throwing hot rubber, dragging safety chains, worn out bearings, cigarettes and careless burning. Wet springs grow tall grass, which when dry can explode. Fire spreads secretly, sometimes burning 12 inches under the ground. Any suspicion of arson is closely investigated by state experts. Firefighters must complete broad training to get certified at various levels. They also have to think about practical things like not sucking fish into the truck when drawing water. Altogether, 21 volunteers belong to IVFD as fire fighters and auxiliary, with about 11 active members. They believe strongly the welcoming smile structures reside in neighbor helping at Ronnie's Market. outside a 5-mile radius neighbor. "The tradition Her father started the of a station. Careful of ranchers and farmers original IVFD. planning went into the here is to depend on IVFD secretary Fran strategic placement of each other, getting Villano participates the 3 stations to provide together to manage in planning and maximum structural cattle and equipment,fundraising. Outside coverage. It's just a way of life. of IVFD she provides aNew trucks cost Other places there's major email information $150,000, but IVFD has more of a public mindset pipeline for the fortunately obtained that people think they community, helps used trucks from hoses, tools equipment. They maintain three 1946 pumps because it's difficult to replace the hardiness of these older models. They rely heavily on grants and fundraising activities by the Ladies Auxiliary, and often build their own adaptations. Upkeep and acquisition are ongoing Left to right, Indian Valley Fire Department volunteers Keith Heil, John Habefle, Tim Toomey. have to be paid to helporganize crafts outf Tim explained. Tim grew up in Weiser, attended the Idaho Military Academy and served in the National Guard from 1956-1978 as an executive officer for the armored cavalry, retiring as a Major. After Boise Cascade he worked for the Forest Service from 1961- 2004 as a zone engineer, handling construction and contract work from New Meadows to Weiser until his retirement. In his rare free time he's often golfing or fishing with his friend Pete Johnston. Bey, his wife of 52 years and the IVFD financial officer, hails from Indian Valley. She is the attractive, petite redhead with events,multiple resources, challenges. and sells her own One huge 1969 former "It's a struggle. We homemade products, military all-wheel-spend a lot of time When asked about the drive truck carries 1500 on the equipment," loyalty volunteers give gallons of water. With said Tim. They do all to the department, she its low range gears of their maintenance. explained, "Everybody and tall tires it can Josh Barritt,one of would do whatever practically climb walls, the captains and an it takes for Tim. He's An anonymous donor exceptional diesel respected and has a supplied a new light mechanic, takes care lifetime of experience" brush truck, and a grant of heavy repairs. He Officers understand supplied its pump. Their joined IVFD right after the economics of fleet includes 2 water he moved into the valley. maintaining a fire tenders, 2 heavy brush "Trucks were iffy until station. Donations engines, 2 light brush Josh took over" Tim originally supported trucks and 3 structural related."He's a Godsend." IVFD completely, but engines positioned Right now Josh and as costs grew a taxingamong the three stations. Tony Dunham are taking district was formed to Smaller equipment turns running the fire keep it going. Volunteers includes self-contained tender at the Wesley fire. don't draw a dime for breathing apparatus, Josh takes over when their work, unless fire extinguishers,Tony harvests his hay. contracted by another personal fire shelters (a Including Wesley, IVFD agency. People actually risky aluminum cover has fought over a dozen save more paying for a to provide a protected fires this year including fire tax base than they space in the midst of4 mutual assistance do paying the higher a wild fire), backpack calls in Council, 2 in rate of insurance when sprayers, and lots ofCambridge, and 1 in Midvale. Volunteer Keith Heil and his wife Frances moved from Las Vegas in 2001 to enjoy the Goodrich solitude. An Air Force veteran who'd served in Southeast Asia two years, he'd retired from 31 years in the construction union. When the Goodrich area was annexed into the IV fire district, he stepped up to be the Goodrich station captain. Keith had never done anything like it before. He was awed by the magnitude of the Gray's Creek fire and the teamwork of the crew who stood their ground and protected the houses. "I was proud;' he remembered. Volunteer John Haberle, a retired electrician, came from Iowa 30 years ago, "They badgered the hell out of me to join;' he laughed. With his breathing problems he can't fight fires, but he provides maintenance, construction oversight, and innovations like shorelines for the trucks' air breaks and batteries. He works together with Steve Hussey, a retired police officer who moved here from Las Vegas. Mike Ball. captains the Mesa fire station. In addition to Fran and Bev, other women actively contribute. IVFD Training Officer Robin Juica and Melissa Dunham are active firefighters. Wendy Green works on grants and fundraising. People don't have to fight fires to be helpful. "This isnot a closed club;' Tim said. "Anybody with an interest can join. We'd be thrilled to have them:' They've been working on a recruitment and retention plan, and need 5 more volunteers. "Just grab any of us if you want to help in any way;' Keith added. New volunteers will enjoy great camaraderie, experienced leadership, and the thanks of a grateful community.