New Winlock Fire Department employees Justin Shoemaker, Kellen Newberry and JP Blum
Lewis County Fire District 15 (aka Winlock) passed a levy last year. The levy gave the fire department extra funds to hire three new full time firefighters. We have been blessed with excellent firefighters throughout the years.
The Lewis County Fire District 15 also received an impact fee from a developer who purchased the Mickelsen Land. The amount of the impact fee will provide for a new fire station out by Benaroya Industrial Park. One of the requirements to keep our rates in good standing with the buildings at Benaroya, Winlock needs a ladder fire truck. The amount combined is $6,000,000. They will need approximately six new employees to service the fire station.
Richard Underdahl is the Fire Chief in Winlock, he has done a phenomenal job so far. He provides information, hires employees, fire fighting and everything else in between. The most important part to the community is he answers calls, emails and is very personable.
Chief Underdahl recently hired three new employees. We wanted to give an idea as to what the new employees are like. Each firefighter was given a few questions, their answers are here.
Why did you decide to come to Winlock and join our fire department? I wanted to apply to Winlock Fire Department because there is the expected growth of the city which can still hold onto the feeling of a small community. It is important to me that this department is close to where my family and I live because I can have a positive impact on those who know me and have supported me through my previous training.
Why did you decide to become a firefighter and when? I knew I wanted to be a firefighter before I graduated high school after I noticed firefighters' service in my community. Since then I have been working towards this goal and I am excited to begin my career. I decided to become a firefighter because growing up in Lewis County showed me how much the fire service is respected by the community. I knew I wanted to be a part of something that focuses on building skills and gaining knowledge with the intention of giving back to the community.
What should the community know about you? I grew up in Lewis County and have made it a point to stay here. It is important to me that I stay here and give back as much as I can. In my personal life, I have been a Bethel Church member my whole life and I enjoy spending my free time outside. I love the pacific northwest and have summited many of the mountains in Washington and Oregon, including Mt. Rainier five times. I look forward to growing with this community as I shape my career in the Winlock Fire Department.
When did you go into firefighting? I started volunteering as a firefighter 3 years ago for Riverside Fire Authority in Centralia. I was born and raised in Lewis county, and was really looking for a way to contribute to the community.
Why did you choose to be a firefighter? I worked as an auto mechanic for about 10 years before starting my fire career. While I appreciate the skill set I gained from that experience, I always wanted to have a more direct, positive impact on other people's lives. I love the close-knit community that Winlock is, and really look forward to being able to be a part of it by serving with the Winlock fire department.
What do you enjoy about being a firefighter? What I enjoy about the fire service is that it's a service to the community and being able to help out others that are in need.
Winlock is a small community, what should the community know about you? I moved to the rural Winlock area in September 2017 after my wife and I got married. We have a 3 year old daughter.
How long have you been a firefighter? I was a volunteer for 17 years before getting hired full time.
Chief Underdahl is happy to have three new employees, he stated, "Thanks to the passage by the voters to increase the dollar amount collected to our general fund to $1.28 per thousand, we were able to hire these three individuals. The voters of Fire District #15 can rest assured that each of these firefighters carry the highest level of skill and respect for the citizens that they are hired to help. I am proud of each of them and know that they are keeping in the tradition of the exceptional service that our fire district currently displays on a daily basis."
With a new fire station and a new ladder truck, Winlock is sure to keep a very good fire rating for all of us to appreciate.