The Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team — over a dozen volunteer local firefighters from departments across the rugged terrain of Southern Humboldt — dedicate hundreds of hours responding to emergency calls along the Mattole River, portions of the main stem and south fork of the Eel River. Following a $25,000 donation from the Benbow Inn, the team will now be able to build a permanent home in Garberville, where they can store equipment and hold monthly training sessions.
“We appreciate the support we get from the local community,” team captain Kai Ostrow said. “The nice thing about the donation is we’ve been freeloading at the Garberville Volunteer Fire Department’s station as long as we have existed and we thank them for their support. We are very appreciative of their support for us.”
The donation from Benbow Inn coupled with funding from the county through Measure Z means the team will now be able to build a new station next to the Cal Fire station on Alderpoint Road.
From the Inn’s standpoint, the donation went to a very worthy organization. Benbow Inn holds a wine tasting and auction event each November and winemakers from across the region provide the wine for the event while the Inn provides the hors d’oeuvres and the guests bid on high-end items.
The auction is handled by auctioneer and 1st District Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn.
“John and I have been hosting this even for 24 years,” said owner Teresa Porter. “Each year we choose a charity or non-profit to help support. We admire the people at SHTRT and the invaluable volunteer work they do.”
The donation will allow the team to house its two light rescue trucks, its trailer and its 14-foot inflatable boat in a central location, making a response to an emergency easier and quicker.
“This is awesome,” said rescue team spokesman Thomas Norris. “This money will be used to fund the purchase of the materials for the station and it will allow us to pay for contractors to do all the water, electrical and plumbing and foundation work. All of our equipment will be stored there and we are in the early stages. We are still working our way through the paperwork and construction should start pretty soon, probably early spring.”
All of the rescue team members have day jobs; in addition to the hours they already volunteer for training twice a month, Norris said, they will also volunteer labor to get the station built.
“The big training day is the third Sunday of every month, that’s an eight-hour training session,” Norris said. “We also hold a fundraiser every year in the Garberville town square and we are extremely grateful and thankful for the donation from the (Benbow Inn) fundraiser. It will definitely benefit our community.”
The rescue team performs high-angle rope rescues, assists the all-volunteer Humboldt County Sheriff’s Posse with search and rescue operations and also performs swift water and flood rescue. The team gets funding from the Southern Humboldt Fire Chiefs Association.
“It takes a special kind of person to do what we do,” Norris said. “I got into it even though I’m not much of a people person but I do enjoy helping people out. Sometimes you have to push and challenge yourself and we get anywhere from three to six people to respond when a call comes in. We’re volunteers funded by donations and every little bit helps.”
Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.