Veteran firefighter found his niche

Veteran firefighter Paul Twichell just recently returned to full duty with the Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department after recovering from hip replacement surgery in February. His recovery has been so complete that he says he has no pain and is amazed at how good he feels. I caught up with him just before he left on a trip to Carlin, about 100 miles east of Winnemucca and about 25 miles west of Elko, to do some public relations work for a potential job.

"I am a contract welder who works for the contractors. They rent me to do their welding," Twichell said.

As a welder for hire, he travels all over the state for work, but has always lived right here in Douglas County back in the Pine Nut Mountains.

His wife, Barbara, is an operating room nurse at Carson Tahoe Hospital. They have four children, Don, Anne, Karen, and Shane and one grandson, Austin. When time permits, he enjoys deer and chukkar hunting. He tells of the time they were hunting in Arc Dome Wilderness - the largest of Nevada's wilderness areas with most of the elevations above 10,000 feet located north of Tonopah in the center of the state.

"Dave Mauk and some other friends had just dropped us (Twichell and his son Shane) off and were headed back to get some supplies," said Twichell. "A snowstorm came up real quick and marooned us for three days one November. Dave had the worst time trying to get back because all the roads were closed and he was having to turn around and try different roads to get to us. Eventually Shane and I walked out and met Dave on the road as he was coming back to get us."

When asked why he got interested in volunteer fire fighting, Twichell said, "Everyone needs to put back into the community and you pick your niche. Some coach Little League but that's not me. I can fight fires so this is my niche."

He received his fire fighting training at Gold Quarry in Carlin 18 years ago when he was a mill mechanic in the mines. He spent nine years at Station 9 before joining our Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department 10 years ago as the safety officer.

His most memorable call was the Red Rock fire north of Reno about four years ago.

"I went on a strike team with Jeff Weaver on the little tender (water truck). Usually you get to a fire and go through different check-in points including staging but this one we were sent directly to the front line to fight the fire. We fought straight through the night and the following evening we went in to get some dinner and they said, 'We need to get you guys logged in - we don't have you on record.' Everyone was so focused on the fire that we didn't think about it until things calmed down," he said.

"When you are out in this area, whether it be camping, hiking, or just pulled over to check something out, always think 'Fire.' Be aware - it only takes a few seconds to have a spark take off and become a full-blown major fire event. Although they are a bit bulky, it is a good idea to have one of the water type fire extinguishers with you because they are better at fighting a fire in the cheat grass than the chemical type extinguishers," Paul said.

Great advice.

Don't forget the annual barbecue on this Saturday at the firehouse on Pinto Lane. Dinner will be from 4-8 p.m. followed by games, auctions and dancing until midnight. It offers fun for the entire family and a chance to meet some new friends as well as visit with some old friends. Hope you can make it.

Have a ramblin' good week.

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


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