March 9, 2013
I Care: Fighting fires for 36 years

20130307_AOC_ICareFire_052w.jpgThe sparkling silver tank of the Metro Fire water tender holds 2,800 gallons, and when it's sent to a fire Terry Barnes will almost always be sitting in the driver's seat. For 36 years, Barnes, 72, has dedicated himself to Elverta's all-volunteer Station 116. The retired heavy equipment mechanic lives half a mile away and keeps his pager on 24/7. He'll rush to drive the water tender to every fire that his pager alerts him to. Actions speak volumes for this man of few words. Each day he comes to the station to clean or work on the engines. He's stayed steadfast in his post as neighbors and other firefighters have come and gone. Still, he feels connected to those he serves. "I take pride in living in the community and working in the department and helping as much as I can," he says. "It keeps my mind going because you never know what's going to happen next."


In 1976 Barnes was spending time at a friends house when his friend said "C-mon you're going to a fire with me." That friend had been trying to get Barnes to join the volunteer fire department for months. After he helped haul hoses and spray water on a grass fire he was told that he was now on the fire department. "I still enjoy it," he says.
One of the memories forever seared in his mind is the day his brand new helmet was burned up, melted from the heat of a structure fire he was attending to in a single family home.
Though he originally joined without training he has recieved an abundance of training over the years. Below he attends a two hour training on what's in the different medical equipment bags that he could be called upon to assist with. He attends three training sessions each month that cover a variety of topics.
Barnes is part of a core of 3 long-time volunteer firefighters in Elverta which also include Dennis Berry, who's been there 34 years and Jess Burwell who's served for 39 years. The station seems steeped with history and pride in one's community. The volunteers will also attend community events to spread awareness on what they do. They often drive a 1923 fire engine named "Old Betsy" in community parades.
"If I wasn't working for the fire department I don't know what I'd be doing," he said. This is Barnes' idea of a fulfilling retirement.

Do you know a volunteer who stands out? Please send your suggestions to Autumn Payne at apayne@sacbee.com.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.