Rippey Volunteer Fire Department open house spurs grateful memories

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Members of the Rippey Volunteer Fire Department attending the April 9 open house included, from left, Fire Chief Pete Johnson, Katlyn Kendall, Michelle Christian, Deb Dennhardt, and Phil Odin. They are standing on the department's newest truck, delivered in February. Photo courtesy Jean Borgeson

Mother Nature was kind to the Rippey Volunteer Fire Department when they hosted an open house for the community April 9. The fire trucks were gleaming in the sunshine, and the equipment on display inside the station was interesting, especially to the children, who were allowed to touch and try on some of the gear.

There are 10 members and one junior member on the local department. They include Chief Pete Johnson, Brad Rowe, Phil Odin, Jon Allen, Gary Schmidt, Curt Muir, Deb Dennhardt and Michelle Christian and two Heartland Co-op employees, Jared Mills and Jon Bushman.

Katlyn Kendall is a junior member. She is a junior at Greene County High School and has already set herself the goal of being a fire fighter. Gail Monthei is an honorary member to the crew.

Chief Johnston joined the department in 1976. He said he remembers his first house fire vividly. David Cunningham was living in his grandparents’ house when it caught fire, and he was lucky to escape without injury. The incident left a life-long impression on Johnson that he has carried over the course of a long career.

When local fire departments evolved into emergency first responders, Johnson took the new duties very seriously. He is a state-certified Emergency Medical Responder and keeps his certification up by taking 16 hours of training each year.

Even though there have been many emergencies and rescue calls in his career, the worst one in recent years, he said, was the accident west of Rippey several years ago that killed three people.

The community members who attended were able to meet and thank the Rippey Volunteer Fire Department members who respond to the emergency needs of our community. All small communities should be proud and thankful there are people who will serve their communities in this capacity.

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