Community, Gales Creek, News

Open house for 50 year anniversary of firefighting in Gales Creek is Saturday

An open house to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of firefighting in Gales Creek will be held Saturday, June 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Gales Creek Fire Station in downtown Gales Creek.

“Learn about the first call for firefighters out in the Gales Creek area on April 1, 1973,” a poster for the event reads. “Find out when and how the station was built.”

On hand will be face painting, staff from both Forest Grove Fire & Rescue and the Oregon Department of Forestry, and an appearance by Smokey Bear himself.

Station tours, photos on a fire truck, and refreshments will also be available.

The event has been in the works since at least March, spearheaded by Gales Creek resident and perennial volunteer Joyce Sauber.

Sauber’s late husband Bill Sauber was a longtime fixture in the ranks of the volunteer firefighters in Gales Creek.

His obituary notes he was one of the original founding members of the Forest Grove Fire Department Gales Creek Fire Brigade, and served for nearly two decades as a volunteer firefighter in Gales Creek.

“Joyce has been doing the bulk of the planning for this,” Forest Grove Fire & Rescue spokesperson Dave Nemeyer said in a phone call with the Gales Creek Journal.

Sauber has prepared artifacts and historical information about firefighting efforts in the Gales Creek area.

In addition to an opportunity for community members to celebrate the work of the all-volunteer firefighters who’ve served the community in the past, the event could also serve as a tool to help staff the station, which has struggled in recent years to maintain active firefighters available to respond to calls at all hours.

“We’re hoping to get community members there who are maybe interested in joining the fire department,” Nemeyer said.

Sauber approached the fire district in March to launch planning of the event, Nemeyer said. While running an open house in April proved too difficult, the event has been steadily worked toward since March, with a volunteer event to prepare the grounds held May 6 and FGF&R staff and volunteers working to clean the station up as well.

Joined by volunteer firefighters from the Gales Creek station, Forest Grove and Cornelius, the group moved and cut logs, spread fresh dirt, added new plants, and more.

The work has continued, Nemeyer noted, with a significant amount of work being put in at the station in the last two weeks. Nemeyer also noted that he hopes maintenance will continue, with some much needed work on the decades old building possible in the years to come.

The Gales Creek Fire Station is a jointly-owned facility in Gales Creek owned by the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District and the city of Forest Grove that now consists of both a small station and an adjacent property with a manufactured home placed on it which provides free housing as an incentive to volunteers to live in Gales Creek and respond to emergency calls when they are available.

In fact, three such volunteers, all college students, live there now, Nemeyer said, one of whom just joined the cadre of volunteers who live there last week. Another volunteer from Forest Grove spends Sunday evenings when able at the station as well.

The site also prominently features an antique, though not operable, fire warning tower as well as a fire danger sign operated by the Oregon Department of Forestry. The Oregon Department of Forestry also frequently stages a firefighting vehicle at the station during times of high fire danger, owing to Gales Creek’s close proximity to ODF-protected lands in and near the Tillamook State Forest.

The Gales Creek Fire Station is located at 52155 NW Old Wilson River Road.

Those interested in volunteering should contact Volunteer Coordinator Steve Black at Forest Grove Fire & Rescue by calling 503-992-3195 or by emailing [email protected].

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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