Two Longtime GF Fire Dept. Employees RetireBattalion chief Rick Coulter and fire marshal Jerry Vein are retiring after a combined 70 years of service to the department.
By: David Schwab, WDAZ
Grand Forks will enter the new year without two of it's firefighting veterans. Fire Marshal Jerry Vein and Fire Battalion Chief Rick Coulter are retiring this week.
Grand Forks firefighters took some time this week to recognize two of their own that will retire. Vein and Coulter have a combined 70 years of service.
"When I started, I like to tell the troops around here, that I was fresh out of the jungles of Vietnam. I got this job in 1972," said Coulter.
Coulter says there are some similarities between the duties of a soldier and a firefighter. He recalls one fire where he thought he might not make it out.
"We ran out of air. We were on the floor, trying to breath and one of the battalion chiefs, Dick Felton, put a ladder through the window right over our heads so we went out head first. That sticks in my mind a lot," Coulter said.
As fire marshal Jerry Vein rolled with the changes in fire codes and worked to make some big Grand Forks structures safe. One of those being the Ralph Engelstad arena.
"The massive size of that thing and the complexities that went in there. I wouldn't have been able to do it without the resources and help from other people," retiring fire marshal Vien said.
Both Vein and Coulter say changes in uniforms and equipment have made fire fighting safer through the years. They say there is one thing now in most all homes that has made a big difference.
"The advent of smoke detectors has really, not necessarily made our jobs easier, but it certainly decreases the frequency of large fires," Coulter said.
"A sprinkler system and fire alarm and a home escape plan make your chances of getting out of a fire rise to 80 to 85 percent," Vien said.
At age 62 both Coulter and Vein plan to stay active in the community and spend more time with family. They say they will miss working for the people of Grand Forks.