The Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department gathered to honor the service of the men and women of the department. City officials, public officials, fire chiefs, fire department members and their families all gathered to have a night of good food and recognition of their fellow crew members.
The Ladies Auxiliary picks the theme every year and this year it was camouflage. In past years it has been western, Hawaiian, rock and roll, and many others. As the room filled throughout the night so did the multitude of environmental patterns clothing.
”This dinner was originally created as a 'ladies night',” FVFD Chief Lon Winburn said. “Since every year a different company is in charge of cooking the dinner we had ladies without their men for the night. In about 2004 we started to recognize our company members for their performance and service.”
The evening is still full of ladies and gentleman, but the event has turned more towards recognition of support by community via public officials and service by company members.
Company 2 received the cooking honors this year and served up a mouth-watering prime rib dinner. After recognition of several company members and two organizations the FVFD danced the night away.
Dean Glaser was recognized as the “Firefighter of the Year” for his 11 years of service to the FVFD.
Shelly Mendes, well known for her commitment to the department and community, was awarded “Fire Citizen of the Year.”
”Shelly has been involved with the department for over 25 years serving and participating on the Ladies Auxiliary and the departments Muster Team,” Winburn said.
Mendes is currently the departments' primary dispatcher and the administrator for the Explorer program, which both of her sons have participated. According to Winburn, “Shelly volunteers all of her time and when we are on a long call will come down and relieve the fireman on dispatch so they can get to the scene. She is highly skilled.”
Mel Berti was recognized for his 50 years of service to the FVFD. Berti began his service in 1962 and to this date continues to be an active fireman. “Mel not only participates in training and call response, but is a mentor to all of us in the fire department,” states Chief Winburn. Chief Winburn continues, “Mel's unwavering commitment to this fire department and the community it serves has set the bar for all of us.”
Perry Timmerman retired and was honored for his 30 years of service. “Perry's service to the fire department includes a long history of leadership, having served as lieutenant and captain of Company 3 for ten plus years as well as the departments' safety officer,” Winburn said. “Perry's abilities to direct his people and lead on the fire ground will be truly missed,” Winburn said.
There are very few people in the community of Fortuna that do not know the name Tom Daetwiler. He is a beloved figure who has dedicated 20 years to the FVFD. In a period of transition while two fire chiefs worked out of town Assistant Chief Tom Daetwiler was the glue that held it all together. Daetwiler was recognized for his 20 years of service and received his assistant chief's Badge and Bugles. “Tom has been a dedicated member of the department and the community,” Winburn said. “He was the person who held it all together for the fire district during our transition from a volunteer to career fire chief position.”
Ken Lytle retired after 17 years of service and was recognized for his commitment to the department and community. “Ken is the 'go to guy' anytime you needed something done,” Winburn said. “He has served the department from 1995 to 2012 with 14 of those years being department treasurer.” Just like Daetwiler, there were few and far between events that you could not find Lytle volunteering. “Ken has been active in numerous community events as well as handling daytime command coverage for many years.” Winburn said.
Winburn also thanked the Ladies Auxiliary, which was singled out during the evening's awards for its numerous programs and mostly behind-the-scenes community involvement.
The Auxiliary is 22 members strong and provides support to the fireman during extended emergency events, trainings, and in general as needed. “While they are only a phone call away, the group will normally monitor radio traffic and respond to assist with refreshments, food, etc. any time of the day or night,” Winburn said. “This is always a welcome sight to cold, tired and hungry firemen.”
In addition to providing assistance to the fire department, the Auxiliary assists families that have been put out of their home or are in need due to any emergency with clothing and food vouchers.
Glamorous Garb is a program in which the Auxiliary distributes new or like-new prom dresses, shoes and jewelry to high school girls who may not be able to afford the purchase of new clothing for that special event.
”The Ladies run a scholarship program, assist firefighters with family memorial services and are a major supplier of man-power and support to the Santa Sleigh Program,” Winburn said.
For more information about the FVFD, Ladies Auxiliary, Glamorous Garb, or one of the many programs supporting the community, contact 725-5021 or visit Glamorous Garb on Facebook.
Photo by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon
Dean Glaser poses with his plaque for “Firefighter of the Year” at the annual awards dinner. He was nominated and then secret ballot voted in for the award based on his dedication to the department, the community, and overall attitude.