Retired, past, and present Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department firemen and firewoman, along with friends and family gathered at Company 1 Main Fire Station on Fortuna Boulevard to honor 50 years of service by Mel Berti.
The evening was filled with laughter and great food provided by the Ladies Auxiliary and FVFD to honor their longtime friend and fireman. Guest entered signing a guest book and posters where they could leave personal messages to Berti.
Berti is only the third member in the history of the FVFD to reach 50 years of service. Retired Company 2 Captain Bob Durfee shared, "Mel has always been good with people and when there are situations where we have needed to deal with traffic he has a way with dealing with individuals."
FVFD Chief Lon Winburn described, "Berti is all about the community." Chief Winburn went on to share a heartfelt, "Thank you for everything."
Longtime FVFD retired Chief Frank Hizer joked, "Berti had to get a Corvette to get to the fires on time. One time he passed me on the way to a fire and that was 40 years ago."
Bill Terry, former Fortuna Police Chief, made the trip into town to honor his long time friend sharing, "He will always be my best friend and my partner." Terry reminisced about a time downtown during the last street dance where FPD could not get the crowd under control and so the longtime group of FVFD members turned the hoses on the crowd.
FVFD has a new Captain for Company 1, Trevor Miller shared, "Mel comes to calls at all hours of the night and morning when ? of the Department do not. This is true commitment."
Kent Johnson reflected on his 26 years on the Department with Berti saying, "We backed each other up. We were a pretty darn good hose team." Johnson also presented Berti with a gift to acknowledge his 50 years of service to the community.
Berti reflected, "I have worked with a lot of excellent people in the Fire Department." Berti shared about his introduction into the Department remembering, "I have to thank my dad for getting me into the Department. He was a great fireman, as was my uncle."
After some funny stories and tragic reflections on loss on the job the large group said their congratulations and thanks for all he has done. Berti responded, "Thank you so much for coming here tonight. It is a great honor."
Photos by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon
1. Members of Company 1 present Mel Berti and his wife with a congratulatory and thank you gift.
2. Members of the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department past and present join around Mel Berti to congratulate him on his 50 years of service to the community.