Fire chief thanked for service

"I believe that you are a fireman 365 days a year and as long as I am in the community I want to give something back," said Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry Hughes. "I have been a firefighter with Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District since July 1, 1975. Our schedule (48 hours on and 96 hours off) gives me the opportunity to do other things - volunteering with our neighborhood department as well as coaching football at Douglas High School for the past 20 years."

Hughes joined our department in 1987 and then became fire chief in 1989 after being with the Ranchos Volunteer Fire Department from 1981 through 1986.

As the chief, he is "responsible for overseeing in-house training, building maintenance and station equipment. John (Babcock) makes me look good," Hughes said.

Hughes, along with his two assistant fire chiefs, John Babcock and Mark Gonzales, are the guiding forces of our department. They are the epitome of teamwork and it shows in the morale of the men and women in the department.

"Volunteering should be a priority but family is still number one. Most volunteers have joined and stayed for the long term. We haven't lost many members over the years," said Hughes. "About 80 to 85 percent of nationwide responses are medically related. That's why most departments are more interested in hiring the dually trained paramedic-firefighter. The training program through our East Fork Fire District is divided into four parts and one of those is Emergency Medical Services."

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can go to the Web site and review the application process and training program.

Over the years, Hughes has been on many memorable calls, but the one that sticks out in his mind is "the Waterfall fire in Carson City during the summer of 2004. We got in a very dangerous situation when the fire quickly changed direction. My son, Patrick (also a member of our department who is currently attending the Fire Academy in Reno), was with me in the truck. While it's OK to get yourself in harm's way, it's very different when one of your children is with you in that dangerous situation.

"This department began with several families getting together to help out their neighbors. We were younger and our children were younger so when we got together it was always a family affair - dinners with children running around playing. That is how our annual barbecue fundraiser began - as a block party with kids of all ages getting together with friends and neighbors for an afternoon of fun and camaraderie. We have resisted changing the menu from the usual backyard choices of hamburgers and hot dogs because we want to keep the cost down so that more families can join us for the fun as well as maintain the atmosphere of a backyard barbecue."

This year's fundraiser will be on July 8, from 4 p.m. to midnight. Be sure to mark your calendars.

Family time with wife, April, and sons Colton, Drew and Patrick is very important to Hughes. When he does have some spare time, Hughes likes to "get in my jeep to go four-wheeling on the dirt roads in the hills around here."

Hughes has some advice for our neighbors: "Have your house number visible, preferably lit, and be sure to give the correct address when calling 911 for emergency help. When people are frantic, they make mistakes in giving vital information. We don't want to lose precious moments by going to the wrong house or not being able to find the location. Being rural, it is even more challenging because so many houses are set back from the road that it can be difficult to see the address. There are many options available to us now with reflective numbers or even the solar-powered kind."

Thank you to Hughes for your service to our community and to your family for their support.

Have a Ramblin' Good Week!

n To reach Gail Davis, e-mail or call 265-1947.


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