Members of what is believed to be the longest continuously operating volunteer fire department on the West Coast gathered Tuesday night at the Eagles Lodge in Carson City.
The occasion was the 151th annual dinner meeting of Warren Engine Co. No. 1, which until 1964 was the sole fire suppression unit for the capital city.
After Carson City received a full-time paid fire department firefighters from Warren Engine Co. (WECO) continued to play an important role in assisting the career firefighters in their tasks.
WECO was organized on June 17, 1863, by about 20 or so citizens concerned about the need for fire protection, and that date is reserved annually for a dinner meeting. Tuesday’s was attended by about 50 members and guests who still follow the motto, “Where duty calls — there you’ll find us.”
Many volunteers, who routinely saw each other when they responded to the horn coming from the fire station at the corner of Musser and Curry streets announcing there was a fire in progress, get an opportunity to catch up with one another at the annual event.
Among the oldtimers were brothers Dick and Don Lane, members since 1962 and 1965 respectively, Bud Miller, who joined in 1962 and Wallace Bennett, who has belonged since 1967. More recent members were Sheriff Ken Furlong and former mayor Ray Masayko. Added to the roster last year was Joe Curtis of Virginia City, a former longtime Carson City Sheriff’s Department detective.
Also attending were guests Hazel Woodgate, widow of Mel Woodgate who died in Sept., 2010 and had been a member since 1951, and Nevada’s fire marshal Pete Mulvihill.
In keeping with tradition, fallen firefighters were recognized. Paul Webster, who served 10 consecutive years as president of Warren Engine Co., tolled a large bell three times each to honor late member Tom Friend and Ted Berrum who was assistant city fire chief, both of whom died since last year’s annual meeting.
During installation ceremonies sworn in to office by city Fire Chief Stacey Giomi were Charyl Lacombe, president; Steve Frady, vice president; Carol Dunn, treasurer; Teri Norgrove, secretary; trustees Webster, Pat Hill and Fred Wiesma, and WECO first assistant chief Pete Baker.
Twin sisters Lacombe and Dunn will be serving their 10th and 9th terms in office respectively.
Warren Engine Co. No. 1 holds regular monthly business meetings and maintains a fire museum at the main fire station at 777 S. Stewart St. The museum boasts a collection of antique fire equipment, photographs and relics from WECO’s storied past.