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Gladstone firefighters move into new fire hall

The Gladstone firefighters have moved their trucks and equipment into the new fire hall, and are enjoying the amenities of a new kitchen, offices and bathrooms.

Gladstone Fire Chief Joe Wanner credited the firefighters who volunteered their skills to finish the inside construction, as well as the  donations received at RockPile Energy chili cook-offs.

“The funding this year will probably support a few things inside, as well as finish the bathrooms,” Wanner said.

This year’s chili cook-off is Jan. 14, at the Astoria Hotel & Conference Center.  Hosted by RockPile Energy Services, 20 teams will be competing for the title of “Best Chili,” “People’s Choice” and “Best Decorated.”

“We’ll have one team of firefighters and one of the Women’s Auxiliary,” Wanner said.

Wanner works as emergency coordinator  at the Southwest District Health Unit. He joined the Gladstone Fire Department nearly 40 years ago, and has been fire chief for 27 years.

“It was a community thing that needed help,” he said. “I manage the day-to-day activities and I’m the commander when there’s a fire call.”

The firefighters’ most recent call came on New Year’s Eve, when a Gladstone resident’s garage caught on fire.

“A gentleman on Main Street was working on his vehicle, and between the liquid gas and heater, the gas fumes ignited,” he said. “It was pretty much a total loss.”

The Gladstone fire fighters are responsible for a variety of fires -- from buildings and  grassland fires to hazardous materials. Their fire district is 23 miles north of Gladstone, 13 miles south and eight miles wide.

“Right now, we’ve got seven units. We range from structural fires and grass fires to hazardous material activities, so we’re pretty broad-based on the equipment.”

Wanner said the firefighters are looking ahead to replacing equipment. They need to update their bunker gear and their self-contained breathing apparatus.

The roster has 30 volunteer firefighters, who train once a month. They also attend  regional schools and state fire schools, he said.

Wanner is looking forward to participating in the chili cook-off.

“Our goal is to be there and to have fun,” he said.