Firefighter volunteers for quarter century

Jay Hoogestraat (pronounced who-ga-strat) has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 25 years.

He began his career in Arizona serving first with the Rural Metro Fire Department in Phoenix; then on to Kingman; and next to the Central Yavapai Fire District in Prescott before arriving in Nevada in 1989. He joined the Round Mountain Station - located about halfway between Tonopah and Austin on State Road 376. His next station was Station No. 7 (Ranchos) in 1999, then Ruhenstroth in 2002. Today his duties are divided between two stations.

By day, he lends support to the Minden Station No. 1, across from Carson Valley Chevrolet-Buick, because at the present time there are no volunteers in the station. They have one paid staff member and will have three in the future; but until then, Hoogestraat is one of the volunteer firefighters assigned to the station.

When asked why he chose to be a volunteer firefighter, Hoogestraat said, "at 18, I wanted to be either a fireman or a policeman so I chose both. I have been involved in public safety since 1978."

While talking about the changes he has seen since he began, Hoogestraat said, "For the first eight years I was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and they didn't even wear gloves back then. The first medical kit I carried was in a fishing tackle box. A lot of what we learn is OJT (on-the-job training) and we are still learning."

Hoogestraat said they still have weekly sessions and work in the field.

When not attending fire or medical calls, Hoogestraat is the Douglas County Code Enforcement Officer.

"Primarily we keep the community looking nice by addressing the issues of illegal parking of recreation vehicles; illegal dumping of trash; lighting; signage; and trash violations," said Hoogestraat.

Building Code Enforcement is a separate entity.

In 2001, Hoogestraat moved his family - wife DeAnne and daughters Sharon (who is also a member of our Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department), Staci and Amber - to our neighborhood.

"There is plenty to do here with the year-round sports available," said Hoogestraat. "We have passes to Kirkwood and try to get in some downhill skiing at least one weekend each month. And in the summer we like to take the motor home out to Twin Lakes near Bridgeport."

Hoogestraat had an important message to convey.

"Anybody new that is living in this area, especially next to wildland open space, they need to be aware of defensible space," said Hoogestraat. "It is so important as we have seen in the Waterfall fire in Carson City and others throughout the Southwestern states.

"East Fork Fire District hires seasonal workers to visit homeowners to offer safety tips on protecting their homes and maintaining a defensible space around their property. If they knock on your door, be sure to take advantage of their knowledge and suggestions. It could make a difference if you are ever confronted by a fire."

When asked about his most memorable response, Hoogestraat replied, "We seem to go on more medically related cases; but almost two years ago, there was a head-on collision on Jake's Hill (about a mile south of our neighborhood on Highway 395). We had three helicopters respond and did extrication. There were also several structure fires that I attended in Phoenix. And it is always an eye opener, even though we live in a '24 (hour) state,' when you hear a call about an intoxicated driver on the streets at eight or nine in the morning."

Hoogestraat, we thank you for your dedicated service to our community, as well as the others you have been associated with through your extensive career.

Have a ramblin' good week.

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


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