The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Fire department presents new fire engine


March 29, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

The Cathlamet Fire Department held an open house to show off their new fire engine on Sunday. Pictured here in front of the new rig are, l-r, Paul Tillman, Fire Chief Vernon Barton, and Neil Beerbower. Combined, the three have volunteered 50 years at the department.

The Cathlamet Fire Department held an open house to show off their new rig on Sunday.

"The Town of Cathlamet worked really, really hard the last couple of years to set aside money for this," Fire Chief Vernon Barton said.

"This" is a 2017 Spartan, a traditional structural fire fighting engine. It is the first new engine for the department since 2001, according to Barton.

Thanks to longtime volunteer Neil Beerbower, who has been with the department since 1992, the new truck is ready to go.

"I really want to acknowledge Neil's work," Barton said. "He is the primary person responsible for outfitting and getting this truck ready for service. These trucks are delivered bare with nothing on them."

"I drilled holes," Beerbower laughed modestly.

A lot of thought is put into how the tools are placed around the truck, and all the trucks are outfitted in a similar manner. Volunteers are not only trained to use the tools of the trade, but a lot of time is spent getting to know where things are stored so they don't lose time in an emergency.

Barton is in his second year as the Cathlamet Fire Department fire chief. He has been a volunteer since 1996 and an officer for nearly 10 years.

"It's been a challenge but one I've enjoyed," he said. "Being the person with nowhere to kick it upstairs is a new feeling. Overall, it's been pretty rewarding.

The Cathlamet Fire Department has 19 volunteers overall, including Paul Tillman, who joined a couple years ago.

"I stumbled on firefighting because I was bored," Tillman said. "I found out that I really enjoy it. I really like helping and it's kind of surprising how much I ended up liking it once I did it.

There are 15 emergency medical technicians and 12 firefighters on the team. Some are trained to do both.

"Every department in the county is looking for more volunteers, including search and rescue," Barton said.


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