CORBETT, Ore. — A local volunteer firefighter is celebrating 50 years with his department.
Assistant Chief Brent Younker joined Corbett Fire District 14 in September 1971 when he was 20 years old.
“We're an all-volunteer department so there was about 12 of us that started,” recalled Younker. “Then I just stayed on.”
Fifty years later, Younker is still answering pages.
“You fall together at a moment's notice and take care of a problem,” he said.
In rural east Multnomah County, problems can vary, greatly. From ill-prepared hikers—“I mean they’re up there in flip flops!”— to a memorable call they responded to last month.
“We had a fire up at Benson Park when a beaver cut a tree down when the east wind was blowing,” recalled Younker. “One of the guys sees the butt end of the tree and he goes, ‘Well a stinkin' beaver chewed it down, and that's what fell into the powerline!’”
There are also more serious calls like car wrecks and house fires. Chances are good that Younker and his fellow volunteers will know the people whose lives they are saving.
“It makes you feel good,” he said.
Corbett Fire Chief Dave Flood is grateful for Younker’s years of service and dedication.
“I trust Brent with my life,” said Flood. “It's really because of guys like Brent who think, is there a better way we can do this? How can we be more successful next time or quicker?”
As their job title implies, volunteer firefighters don't get paid. At least, for the most part.
“They bring us treats, especially the locals,” said Younker, noting he favors anything with chocolate.
“I don't know,” he shrugged. “I'll stick around for a while.”