Intermountain honors Peterka for 21 years of service

By Regina Elling

When Ron Peterka and his wife Lila moved to Ramona in 1991, they had no idea the Intermountain Fire and Rescue Department (IFRD) would become such an important part of their lives.

But the relationship has been an especially beneficial one for Intermountain, and its members recently let the Peterkas know

Ron Peterka, left, poses with Maurice Waters, after being honored for more than 20 years of service; both men are members of the Intermountain Fire and Rescue Department’s board of directors.

how much they have appreciated the hard work on their behalf over the years.

IFRD recently honored Ron with an award at a board meeting at the station.

“When we moved to Ramona, we were retirees,” said Peterka. “We had a fine new home and plenty of energy, and we wanted to become a useful part of our new community.”

An opportunity to do so arrived quickly, when Peterka was offered a position on the board of directors of Intermountain.

“That was in 1991,” he said. “The department had one chief, one fireman, and a heavily used and nearly worn out 1955 fire engine. We had a lot on Washington Street in Santa Ysabel and an old shipping container for equipment storage. There was no station, no sleeping or living quarters, and very little in the way of funds.”

As for responding to actual emergencies, he said, “The department made an occasional run—if the engine was able.”

From such humble beginnings, it hasn’t been easy getting the station to where it is today.

“There has been a succession of chiefs, boards, and I don’t know how many firemen over the years,” he said. “We’ve made three steps forward and two back, again and again.”

He recounts an attempt to build a station in Santa Ysabel that fell through, and other ideas the fledgling department tried out.

“We obtained temporary equipment storage in several different places, including a tired travel trailer parked in the local campground. It leaked, the air conditioning was minimal, and the kitchen was non-existent. Any cooking was done on a charcoal barbecue.”

It took several more false starts before a grant was finally obtained, allowing a new station to be built.

“When the first portion of the current station was finished in 1995, there was parking for one engine and living quarters for a crew. The landowner donated water, and since then an addition providing two more parking spaces has been added and a well has been drilled.”

As to the status of the station now, Peterka said, “Intermountain proved its mettle fighting the Cedar fire, and four years later, the Witch Creek fire. We were the first responders, even though the fire almost overran the station itself. We now answer nearly 300 calls a year.”

But while Peterka honors the station for how far it has come, everyone at IFRD feels honored that Peterka has chosen to take the 20-plus-year journey with them.

“I’ve certainly enjoyed working with Ron throughout the years,” said Maurice Waters, board president. “He’s a good man and has brought a lot to the station. He was the heart and soul of Intermountain Fire and will always be a role model for me.”

“I’ve been working with Ron since I came on board seven years ago,” said IFRD Fire Chief Jeremy Christofferson. “He has a huge heart. He’s a great guy and I’ll definitely miss him. Ron always put the department first. His presence and input will be sorely missed by everyone here.”

Christofferson also wanted Peterka to know one more thought from all his friends at the station. He said, “We all wish him well in his retirement and hope he finally gets to relax and enjoy himself.”

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Nov 2 2012. Filed under Featured Story, Local Spotlight, Sheriff/Fire. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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