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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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August 11, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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August 11, 2010
 

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mllllllllml 4A Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 Feather River Bulletin Firefighter/commissioner retires after half-century Linda Satchwel| Staff Writer Isatchwell@plumasnews.com Bob Fitzsimmons recently retired as chairman of Quincy Fire Protection District, after a long and dedicated career to Quincy's fire department as a firefighter and commissioner. For those who haven't lived as long as Fitzsimmons has served with the fire department, it's hard to conceive experiences he's had and the changes he's seen. Fitzsimmons is more than willing to share, but at the same time is quite self-effacing. After prodding he did admit that, perhaps, after 56 years of service, he may have contributed "in some small ways, yes." The volunteer fire department of 1954, when Fitzsimmons was 24, looked somewhat different that it does today. He was one of two "sleepers," he said. The two men slept at the firehall every night, to shorten fire response time. His bunk was where the chief's desk is now. Fitz spent the better part of a year as a sleeper, but then he met his wife, Bob Fitzsimmons, with his wife, Marty, by his side as she has been throughout his entire fire department adventure. Both relationships have lasted for 56 years. Fitzsimmons, who just retired as fire district commis- sioner after more than a half-century of service to the department, was honored at a dinner Aug. 4. Quincy Fire Chief Robbie Cassou poses with the Fitzsimmonses in front of the fire engine that began it all -- Engine No. 1. Photo by Kirnberly Eliason Marty. "We got married in December. I found a better room- mate and moved out of the firehall," he said. "She's been right by my side through this whole fire department adventure." Fitz remembers that in the early days the firefighters had no radios. Instead, there were two sirens---one at the fire- house, on top of the station, the other on top of a pole in East iQuincy. It was so loud when it went off, "it raised you right i out of bed," Fitz recalled. The calls came in to the telephone operators who, in those !days, were housed in the building Morning Thunder fills novL : The operators set off the fire alarm themselves. They stiil ! used an old switchboard, he said. "My number was 798. The !drugstore was 2. There've been a lot of changes." Fitzsimmons fought fires for 18 years. He had to take some time off because of his job. He was a foreman out at the mill, and that "required 99 percent of my time." It was then that Andy Anderson, Quincy's fire chief of 50 years, asked him to become a fire commissioner. Being a firefighter and commissioner have both been good learning experiences, he said. "I've enjoyed every bit of it. It's not a BRENDA LANDRY GRAEAGLE 836-7299 LICENSED &: BONDED - LIC. # 2010-000133 full-time job, but it's an important job. We're the watchdogs for the fire department," responsible for allocating funds from tax revenues. The commissioners worked closely with Chief Anderson for many years, and after that with Chief Robbie Cassou. Fitz has the highest praise for both men. "It's important to have a good working relationship," he said. The chief tells the commissioners what the department needs, and the commissioners decide what the fire district can afford. Now, inaddition to fire-fighting equipment, the department requires safety equipment and clothing. It's a lot safer to be a firefighter these days. "The only equipment I was issued when I became a fireman was a pair of rubber boots. Later on, we got a helmet," said Fitz. There would be times he said, when the fire department was having a social function and a fire would break out. The men "would go out in their suits and ties and just do what they had to do." A couple of memorable fires include the night the Quincy lumber mill, which was where Safeway is now, burried to the ground. It was the night before his daughter was born said Fitz, but he fought that fire. Another time, he recalls a fireman reaching in through the burning window of a house and pulling a child to safety. Now, said Fitz, firefighters "have all the safety equipment we can provide for them." Very early in his tenure, Anderson turned the department into a dynamic team. "He was a very progressive, forward thinking guy, with a dynamic personality. He got the fire department well organized and on the road to success ... he did a marvelous job." Since then, training and equipment for the rural fire department have been first rate. Fitz proudly believes they're among the best. Besides the good feeling and adrenaline rush that fighting fires gave him, Fitz said the department has been the source of"a lifetime of friends." When he moved to town in 1949, the first person he met was Kenny Thomas, who is still a senior fireman. "He's been in longer than anybody. We've been the best of friends ever since." The network of friendships went far beyond Quincy. Anderson invited a fireman's band he'd heard in Dixon, The Firehouse Philharmonic, up to play in Quincy. That began a 40-year relationship that continues today, l~ach group still cooks the other's installa- tion dinner. It's hardly surprising a man so committed to the fire department would have the history of its commissioners for the past 36 years committed to memory -- still, it's impressive to hear him relate it. What makes his task a little easier, though, is that most all of the commissioners served for a long time -- a very long time. Most are among that group of lifelong friends he mentioned. All were either firefighters or, in Dorothy Dunn's case, the wife of a firefighter. They include, besides Dunn: Plumie Stokes, Frank Redkey, Carl Lindsey, Mike Nero, Mike Taborski and the newest member, Chuck Leonhardt. "Everybody stays a long time," Fitz agreed. "They retire or die." For his part, Fitz "decided it was time," even though others at the fire department have tried to talk him out of it. "There comes a time. I'm still in good health, reasonably so. I don't want to die on the job. It was time to go." Asked for parting words, Fitz didn't hesitate: "There are many rewards of being commissioner: the friends you make, the people you meet, being able to watch the fire department grow over the years. It's been very rewarding add I'm proud to have been part of it." DAVID J. HEASLETT J!!!: I Informal visit with Dave, your local lawyer i:: [ Member Chamber of Commerce i: li;; ;: 7597 HW~ 89. Graefigle (N~ar :i~ie Gra~giel Medical Ciinic) SLURRY SEALCOATING SSlH OIL HOT CRACK FILLING PATCHING FREE ESTIMATES SERVING ALL OF PLUMAS & LASSEN COUNTIES 29581 HWY 89 CANYON DAM CA 95923 I C-12 CA LIC. #7624"65 | 530 - 284 - 1474 ': v z a '~ H z ~ ~.R xvzR~_~ B ..... " " :d...:.,v ' ~ ....... :~C. ~.~= ',: 2"/. , .,.- ,:~ Postal Service: USPS (No. 188-550,) Periodicals postage paid at Quincy, CA. Published: Every Wednesday rooming by Feather Publishing Co., Inc. Office Location and hours: 287 Lawrence St., Quincy, CA 95971. Mailing address: P.O. Box B, Quincy, CA 95971. Office is open Men. through Fd., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. HOW to contact us: All departments: (530) 283-0800, FAX: (530) 283-3952. E-Mail mail@ plumasnews.com Web Page http://www.plumasnews.com Ownership and Heritage: The Bulletin was established Aug. 11, 1866, as the Plumes National (later changed to Plumas National Bulletin, May 16, 1892) subse- quently changed to its present name May 7, 1931, which merged with the Plumes Independent (1892-1945) on June 7, 1945. Published weekly. It is part of the Feather Publishing family of newspapers sewing Plumas and Lassen counties. Deadlines: Display Advertising: Thursday 4 p.m. Display Classified: Thursday, 3 p.m. Classified: Monday 9 a.m. News: Fddays, 3 p.m. Legals: Thursday 4 p.m. Breaking news: Anytime! To Subscribe: Call (530) 283-0800 or come to the Bulletin office, or use the handy coupon below, or send e-mail to subscrlptions@plumasnews.com Adjudication: The Feather River Bulletin is adjudicated a legal newspaper by Suoerior Court Decree No. 4644 (1953) and qualified for publication of matters reauired by law to be published in a newspaper. Postmastar: Send change of address orders to the Feather River Bulletin, p.o. Box B, Quincy, CA 95971. Michael C Taborski Co-0wner/Publisher Keri Taborski Co 0wner/Legal Advertising Kevin Mallory Asst. Vice Pres./Admin. Delaine Fragnoli Managing Editor Linda Randall Photo Editor Mary Newhouse Classified. Circ. Manager Sherri McConnell Display Advertising Manager Cobey Brown ,Asst. Vice Pres./Operations Tom Fomey Production Manager Elise Monroe B001~eeoer Eva Small Composing Manager Sandy Condon Human Resources Dir Office Manager i= ~ m -,- ~ .-. m, -- -., -.. ~ -- =m =1 Subscription Order Form Feather River Bulletin I P.O. Box B, Quincy, CA 95971 I Please enter my subecdptlon for years. Enclosed find my check for $ I [~l In County $26 per year [~l Out of State $44 per year [~ In California 1137 per year. I Name I "*" - I Icity' state' zIp I IL Subecdptions can be tram~/em~, but not refunded. Plumas County DROP-OFF CLEANERS Hours: Tues., Wed. & Thurs. 8am - 4pm Fast turnaround Pay when you pick-up 231 Main St., Suite 205 (above the post office) Quincy 283-9921 Heaven's GaLe EQ(JINE ACLIPRESSLIRE Susan Holmes, cr_Av zs -lJ8z vvww.heavensKateequine.com Is roof your gu ers into a, ti rb ' Fire hazard: gutter debris Gutter debris is a tinderbox around your roof! 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