Fire district sees changing of the guard

The agency responsible for fighting fires and responding to medical calls in most of Douglas County is experiencing a changing of the guard.

Two veteran East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts chiefs are retiring this summer thanks to an alteration in the state health insurance program for non-state government workers.

"When Dave Drew came to work for the district, we put the wet stuff on the red stuff and that was about it," said retired Topaz Volunteer Chief Frank Riva of the district's training chief of 17 years.

For retiring Paramedics Chief Bobby Wartgow, East Fork was his entire career as a medic and firefighter. Wartgow, a Valley native and 1981 Douglas High School graduate, spent more than a quarter century working for the district.

"He spent 26 years, all here," Chief Tod Carlini said. "That doesn't happen very often any more."

Taking over for Drew is seven-year East Fork veteran David Fogerson.

Fogerson came to Carson Valley from Reno in 2001 where he served as an acting captain. The 33-year-old got his start as a paramedic and ambulance driver in the Mojave Desert before moving to Reno.

Fogerson said he's always wanted to be a fire fighter. He was an explorer scout for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"It's just something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid," he said. "I didn't outgrow it. I'm one of the lucky ones who got to have a career."

"Dave Drew built all this stuff," he said. "All I have to do is maintain it."

In addition to his training duties, Fogerson serves as the district's computer specialist.

He has been married to Anjanette for 13 years.

New East Fork Deputy Fire Chief of operations Steve Tognoli moved to Yerington from the Bay area when he was 13 years old. Tognoli joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school served as a fire fighter and rescueman on Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

After the service, he went to work for the Yerington Police Department and then as a fire crash rescuer at Naval Air Station Fallon. It was in 1988 that Tognoli was hired as a fire fighter and emergency medical technician for the Mason Valley Fire Protection District.

"I hired Steve 20 years ago in Lyon County," Carlini said. "He's a hard worker."

Tognoli, 45, stayed in the Mason Valley for those 20 years, becoming emergency medical services coordinator, deputy chief, and finally district fire chief.

He met his wife Pamela while giving tours of his fire station in 1988 and they raised three children, Stephen, Breanna, who received a scholarship to play volleyball at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia. His youngest, daughter Kascia, is still attending school in Yerington, where the Tognolis have a home. Tognoli is renting a place in Gardnerville while he's on duty. They plan to move to Carson Valley in a couple of years.


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