The Monohans retire after 20-plus years as fire department volunteers

Editor's note: Johnson Lane Journal columnist Lisa Welch writes about growing up with her parents, Norbert and Linda Monohan, who retired from their positions with the Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Department Station 9 on Tuesday after more than 20 years of service. The Monohans both retired from their regular jobs four years ago. Linda Monohan was the school secretary at Gardnerville Elementary School for 20 years.

by Lisa Welch

I never thought I would see the day both my parents gave up their fire department pagers. There were so many times their pagers would go off during a holiday dinner or birthday party. They would run upstairs and get dressed as they rushed out the door apologetic that they would miss eating the cake.

Do you remember the infamous Autumn Hills Fire? Some of you may remember it was also called the "lizard fire," because it was two boys lighting lizards on fire when the sagebrush ignited and suddenly the mountain at Kingsbury Grade was on fire. My dad, Chief Norbert Monohan was on Fish Springs Engine 9 along with Elaine Pace, Bob Grissom and Joe Volk. They got burned more than four times and lost 400 feet of hose in the dangerous fire. Luckily, no injuries. My mom, firefighter Linda Monohan, drove a 700-gallon, four-wheel drive Brush Truck code 3 to the fire. Firefighters Jesse and Don Hale completed the crew and they spent the next 12 hours battling the blaze. My mom said she only got a quick nap and shower before it was time to go to work at Gardnerville Elementary School that morning.

I remember the day of the Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Department's Christmas dinner for all of us family members. Bob Grissom called me from his cell phone as the engine was toned out to respond to the Carson Valley Inn's Motor Lodge that was on fire. Bob asked if I could please go to mom's house and take the turkey off the kitchen counter and put it in the oven. He said not to worry about coming back and taking it out, because they'd be back in time. Well, some four hours passed and I woke my daughter up from her nap so we could go check on the bird. It was getting close to the time dinner would be served down at the firehouse. We got the turkey out and carved it up then made the mashed potatoes and gravy just in time to serve dinner. The firefighters showed up fashionably late. My mom's only concern, she didn't have make-up to put on.

There was also the time when fish were flying over Fish Springs. My parents experienced a most unusual fish-fry out in the Pine Nut Mountains one afternoon in 1990. Lightning struck. Giant-sized trout were falling from the sky and getting barbecued in the blazing fire. Two fire-retardant bomber air tankers and a helicopter were called in to help with the fire suppression. Judge Norm Robinson, whose ranch was located next door to where the fire started, had a pond that was stocked with lots of beautiful trout. When the fighting helicopter dipped its large-capacity bucket into the pond, it quickly filled up with not only water, but fish too. The helicopter dumped its bucket of water onto the burning trees below. The fish came raining down on the fire hitting a BLM fireman on the head.

Then I remember my folks were packing up to go to Alaska on the sidecar pulling their trailer with all their camping gear inside. They were meeting a few other riders and all leaving together early in the morning. Then the lightning started. Of course one good strike again in the Pine Nut Mountains and they were toned out to respond. I was at their house at 4 in the morning to help them pack up so they wouldn't be late meeting the rest of the group. Dad sure didn't get much sleep that night to prepare for the next day's long drive. My parents are troopers.

Memories ... It's time for you youngsters to come sign up to take their places.

n Lisa Welch is a Johnson Lane resident and can be reached at 267-9350.


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