Enough sirens to last a century: Sequim parade celebrates 100 years of fire protection
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Cody Jilg, 4, of Sequim covers his ears as he and his father, Chris, watch the procession of fire engines down Washington Street to celebrate 100 years of organized firefighting in Sequim on Saturday. —Photo by Jeremy Schwartz/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM — Fire engine sirens echoed off Sequim’s downtown storefronts Saturday morning in celebration rather than emergency.

Twenty-two fire engines, both antique and modern, rolled down Washington Street starting at 10 a.m. to celebrate the 100th anniversary of organized fire protection in Sequim.

Trucks from across the Pacific Northwest, Canada and elsewhere paraded past sidewalks lined with two to three dozen waving onlookers.

“I am astounded. I can’t believe the turnout,” Clallam County Fire District No. 3 Chief Steve Vogel said in a phone interview after the parade.

Vogel was speaking from Carrie Blake Park, where centennial festivities would offer children’s activities, vendors, food and live music until 6 p.m.

“I’m really happy, and things are going like clockwork,” Vogel said.

“Burning Down the House,” a dance party at 7 Cedars Casino, was to cap the day at 9 p.m.

Vogel said antique fire engines, some originally built in the 1910s, came from varied locales, including British Columbia, Oregon and places in the Seattle area, to be part of the celebration.

“And they made it all the way through the parade without breaking down,” Vogel said with a chuckle.

Volunteers manned the engines, kept the street closed safely and removed the road barricades as the parade rolled by.

“It has been a lot of work,” Vogel said.

“I got a lot of volunteers pitching in.”

Jeff Albers, a career lieutenant paramedic with Fire District No. 3 and co-chair of the district’s centennial party, was heartened by the crowd.

“It’s always good to see our community come out and support us,” Albers said.

Three members of that community were Chris and Kathy Jilg and their son, Cody, 4, who watched the engines roll by the intersection of Washington Street and Third Avenue.

Kathy said her son is a fan of the gleaming red trucks, although the sirens seemed to be a bit much for him. He stood with his hands pressed against his ears.

Respect for the fire service and a desire to see friends in the department brought them out to the parade, she said.

Chris said he enjoyed the antique trucks.

“I love the early ones from the 1920s,” he said. “How they fought fires with those is beyond me.”

East on Washington Street at Sequim Avenue, Sequim resident John Miller crouched against a light post with his grandson, Joni Cort, who is 8.

“I don’t love the noises,” Joni said, though he is found of the antique fire engines, he added.

Miller said he was most interested in an older engine carried on a flatbed truck. Its green color was unusual for a firetruck.

“But all of these things are just so impressive, with the original parts and the brass,” Miller said.

“I’m always impressed at how shiny they keep them.”

One of those engines was a 1939 Ford that Sequim used from the truck’s first year to 1966.

“It was Sequim’s only truck at one point,” said Vogel, who rode on it in the parade with former Sequim fire chiefs Tom Lowe and Lawrence Kettel.

An Aug. 15, 1914, timber fire was the first test of the nascent city’s volunteer fire company and bucket brigade, which had been formed by the City Council on March 11.

One hundred years later, Fire District No. 3 is now Clallam County’s largest fire district and maintains seven stations over a 140-square-mile coverage area that ranges from Deer Park to Gardiner.

The district, which operates on a $6.5 million annual budget derived from a property tax levy, has 49 employees and 79 volunteers, and responds to more than 5,000 calls per year.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 09. 2014 5:32PM
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