Fire district sees 4 veterans retire in 1 month

Deputy Chief Glen Widener, Capt. Tyke Gaskell, engineer Dan Bass and firefighter Glenn Smith from Chelan County Fire District all hung up their helmets for good

By Pete O'Cain
The Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE, WA-- Chelan County Fire District 1 lost 123 years worth of experience last month after four career firefighters hung up their helmets for good.

Retired from the fire district are Deputy Chief Glen Widener, Capt. Tyke Gaskell, engineer Dan Bass and firefighter Glenn Smith. The four began their careers with the Wenatchee Fire Department before it was annexed into the fire district.

"They're all either formal or informal leaders or both within the organization," said Chief Mike Burnett.

Widener spent 37 years fighting fires in the Wenatchee Valley. Training Capt. Al Torres fittingly admired Widener's ability to teach training classes.

"He tried to make training fun," Torres said on Wednesday.

Gaskell was with the department/district for 32 years. Torres described him as a firefighter so skilled he could tell the difference between a roof that was sagging because it was burning from the inside and one that was sagging due to the trestle type.

Bass spent 28 years with the department/district and may be better known to Wenatchee residents for his side gig: he and his family own and operate Wenatchee Valley Brewing.

Torres said Bass loved fighting wildland fires and in his younger years was a member of the Entiat Bushmen, the predecessor to the Entiat Hotshots.

Smith fought fires in the valley for 26 years, Burnett said.

"Smitty" was "just a really good firefighter," said firefighter Chris Paul, who started at the department two years before Smith. "He was always in a good mood, always happy to be here."

Not wanting to stay short-staffed for long, the fire district has already hired replacements for Widener, Gaskell, Bass and Smith. On Monday, Burnett and his soon-to-be successor Deputy Chief Brian Brett selected three new firefighters from a field of 79 applicants.

Burnett and Brett tapped volunteers Austin Flemens and Trystan Daniels, and Jesse Stone from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to join the fire district. The trio are slated to attend the state Fire Training Academy in North Bend on Jan. 25, Burnett said.

Copyright 2018 The Wenatchee World

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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