Our Past | 1989: Ann Reathaford acknowledged for volunteer firefighting contributions

Selected by Karen Larsen

This article published in the Feb. 16, 1989 edition of The Empire Press tells the story of a wife and mother who took on the responsibility of serving as a volunteer firefighter with Douglas County Fire District 2 back in the late 1980s.


First woman chosen firefighter of the year

The first woman in the history of Douglas County was chosen Firefighter of the Year at the annual Firemen’s Awards Banquet held at Nendel’s Four Seasons Inn recently.

A shocked recipient, Ann Reathaford, accepted the award from Commissioner Bill Williams, but said very little except, “I can’t believe it.” She added that each volunteer deserves the award because of all the hard work they’ve put in this past year.

Ann has been a volunteer with Douglas County Fire District 2 for 18 months. She attended several classes at the State Fire Academy, in North Bend, before becoming a volunteer. Ann’s husband Don has been a volunteer with the fire district for five years.

Ann decided to join the ranks of the volunteer firefighters after she witnessed a fire in the Rock Island area.

“I stood there and watched the flames destroy a home with only two firefighters struggling to get the fire under control. It was then that I knew they needed more volunteers to help,” Ann said.

Ann did more than just help. This past year she put in over 120 hours by responding to fires, and participating in drills, special projects and training.

“I put a lot of hours in, but it’s worth it,” Ann said. “This is probably the most rewarding bit of volunteer work that I’ve done. The other things are superficial in comparison to the true emergency positions I’m exposed to here.”

“Without the family it would be impossible,” Ann said. “I have to count on my children to cooperate. The oldest one has to watch the two younger children.”

Ann has three children: Brenda, Adam and Suzanne. The Reathaford family has lived in the Rock Island area for 20 years.