Retiring Richland firefighters honored

Richland firefighters said good-bye to three brothers who have served the Richland community for a total of more than a century.

Medical Officer Terry Thrall, Battalion Chief John Boardman and Capt. Ron Beardemphl were honored during a special breakfast Wednesday at the Richland community center.

All three started in 1977 and have put in a combined 104 years of service, said Richland Fire Chief Grant Baynes.

"Personally, it's really tough. I've worked with these guys since I've been here," Baynes said. "They have so much institutional knowledge that's incredibly valuable to us. ... It's a mixed blessing. We celebrate a heck of a career, but we will miss them."

The retiring firefighters went through recruit training school together and rose through the ranks to lead and train the next generation of firefighters.

Their retirements leave a big hole in the department, but Baynes said they are excited to fill them with seven promotions from among the ranks.

Capt. Tom Huntington was promoted to battalion chief, the three new captains are Mike Van Beek, Damon Bryan and Randy Aust, and the three new lieutenants are Kevin Landon, Zach Gould and Stein Karspeck.

Battalion Chief Ted Ricci will shift his duties to take on the internal risk reduction position, which Boardman held. Capt. Mike Wroolie will be the EMS program officer, taking over duties that Thrall had as the medical officer, and Capt. Skip Stoker will serve as the department's training officer.

The retirements also mean two firefighters, Travis Leonard and Patrick Noland, who were hired as temporary employees earlier this year, will become full-time permanent firefighters.

Baynes said they are also in the process of hiring one full-time firefighter to fill the remaining open position in the 55-member department.

Baynes said the three retiring firefighters have a long career of putting people and the community first, and even after more than 34 years each, they still have a passion for the job.

"This is a great way for a firefighter to go out," he said.