With the ladder truck he helped purchase gleaming in the background, the Hellsgate Fire Department Tuesday honored “the Pride of Star Valley.”
Richard Pinkerton, longest serving fire board member, died recently after doctors discovered he had cancer.
Up until two days before he fell into a comma, Pinkerton talked of returning to the fire board and continuing his work, said Fire Chief Gary Hatch, who led the flag ceremony Tuesday morning at the department’s main station off Highway 260.
“His heart was still into serving up until the end,” he said.
Pinkerton, who served 14.5 years on the fire board, including several as president, worked closely with Hatch on nearly everything, from station improvements to the purchase of the ladder truck.
The department had talked for years about how to improve its fire safety rating or ISO. One day, Hatch recounted, Pinkerton walked into the station with a newspaper ad for an auction. With the board’s approval, they traveled to the Valley and bid on the ladder truck.
As the bidding slowly increased $1,000 at a time, Hatch asked Pinkerton if he should bid their maximum. Pinkerton gave him a nod to go ahead and the department won the bid.
With his help, the ISO rating for those living within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant went from an 8b to a 4.
“That is a tremendous rating for a small department,” Hatch said.
Besides the purchase of the fire truck, Pinkerton helped Hellsgate establish automatic aid agreements.
As the Hellsgate color guard raised a flag in Pinkerton’s honor Tuesday, Hatch said it was the same flag that had flown at the Tonto Village, Christopher Kohls and Payson Fire Departments as well as the Star Valley Town Hall.
“He was instrumental in automatic aid agreements that are currently in place between all of these departments and the Town of Star Valley.”
Hellsgate will deliver the flag to Pinkerton’s widow July 10.
“He served the Hellsgate Fire department from Dec. 1, 1998 until June 2, 2013,” Hatch said visibly moved. “He served his country in the Army, he served his state as a member of the mapping department and he served his community as a member of the Town of Star Valley roads committee.”