Weippe Rural Fire
Weippe Rural Fire
Emergency -- 911
Other Business - 114 Pine St.
Weippe, ID 83553
(208) 435-9015 -OR- Chief James "Carlyle" Cahala (208) 435-0136
*Denotes Junior Fire Fighter
The history of Weippe’s volunteer fire department history begins in 1947, when Gordon Hueth, Benny Durant and Mr. Axtell started the first department. Early fires were fought by bucket brigades from the creek that ran through town. The first fire shed was located in the Clearwater County Highway District Shed and also housed a Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association truck during the winter months.
In 1960, a motion was made to purchase a lot where the first fire shed was constructed, and still stands today. The first paid members of the fire department were Benny Durant, Earl Shoemaker, Glen Arnold, Shorty Lewis, and Forest Hayes. They began to haul gravel in for the foundation in 1961 using a borrowed truck and donated gasoline. It was a community effort. Some of the different activities used to raise money were Thanksgiving Day dances, Turkey Shoots, Ham and Bacon Shoots, Fire Sales, and door prizes. The 4-H girls and Theda Rho girls served lunches and the boys in school helped by making signs for advertisement.
The first articles of incorporation arrived in May of 1961, along with the new door for the fire house.
In 1966, the men proposed that the women be allowed to become fire fighters. Six women stepped forward for fire training school. Judy Snyder could "hang by her heels on a ladder and kept her shoes by the bed." Barbara Martin did her fair share of polishing and waxing the fire trucks. The men kept working on the hall and laid the plywood to line the walls and ceiling. Dee Steadman was paid $80 per year to tend to the trucks and house. Harry Hicks taught an 18-hour first aid class, with the books only costing 75 cents.
In 1967, all the fire ladders were lost in a fire. John Sharpe was elected chief and there were 37 paid members. Some of them familiar names to us all are Snyder, Zipse, Sharpe, Bonner, Lutes, Hutchins, Edwards, Smolinski, Kingen, Steadman, Watts, Walker, and Wilson.
In May of 1969, plans were made to purchase an old ’51 or ’52 V8 Ford truck which seemed to be in good condition besides the motor and tires. A bid of $566.56 was made. A 1957 GMC 2 ton for $100 carried unanimously instead. An old locomotive water tank from Potlach was found and the volunteers built a fire truck. There was also a 1946 American La France known as "Al Capone" in service for many years. By September 1970 discussions of a 16’ X 32’ room addition began.
In 1974, a ’72 GMC ¾ ton yellow and white quick response unit was purchased for $3,800. In 1975, the cement flooring was poured. Until that time, it had been dirt and gravel. Donations from the community came in for the plumbing and pipe by Elwin Hutchins. In 1976, John Sharpe retired as chief, Bob Needham stepped in. In a 13-year period many others wore that hat. Bob Needham again stepped in and took the position as chief in 1989 where he remained until 1997.
Elwin Hutchins, went to Vancouver and purchased the City Truck #25 for $4,000 on March 16, 1994. It is used exclusively for fires within the city and it’s twin is housed at Hutchin’s Mill. In 1996, Weippe Fire Department changed to a rural district. It was also the year in which the department acquired a white international 4,000 gallon water tanker.
In 1997, Charlie Berreth stepped in as chief. He and his brothers began to modernize the department. They set the standards for training in the department. Their goal, as is the goal today, was safety. Grants were received to purchase personal protective equipment such as S.C.B.A’s (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and full turn out gear. In 1998, an ’85 Ford American LaFrance, which is the rural truck #102, was purchased and driven home from Caldwell. Also in 1998 James "Carlyle" Cahala took the position of chief.
Since then, the firefighters have attended many trainings including the Haz-Mat s, fire fighting essentials, first aid/CPR classes with the Timberline EMT’s and a few extrication courses. As a result of these training sessions, the department responds to and assists as needed with the ambulance crews, assists in the extrications on auto accidents and aids the Clearwater County Sheriffs Deputies with traffic control.
In 2001, the old quick response unit was replaced with a newer 1986 4-wheel drive Ford 1 ton. In 2003, from a grant through the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Department for the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Timberline Rescue Truck found its new home in Weippe where volunteers from Weippe as well as Pierce fire departments man the unit.
The volunteers are involved in numerous community activities such as the annual Mini-Muster in Orofino, Fire Education in the schools, Santa visits, Wild Weippe Rodeo, Camas Festival, and participate as a department in the Pierce 1860 Days Parade and the now annual 9-11 parade in Orofino.
"To the men and women who have donated and volunteered their time in the department: Your ideas and involvement have continued to grow as the members have your values instilled in them and strive to improve the department in as many ways as possible."
To any inaccuracies or to anyone who may have been left out, our sincerest apologies. Most of our sources were talkingto some of the past members, so some things may be a little off.