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Fire department receives safety apparatus

Donation made in memory of volunteer firefighter
By: Gloria Beverage
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Raymond Spencer Jr. believed in serving his community and his country, recalls his father, Raymond Spencer Sr. of Weimar. “He loved the Army. He loved being a firefighter. He loved serving his country,” said Spencer Sr. Army Pfc. Spencer was 23 when he was killed in action in Baghdad in June 2007. He had graduated from the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Academy and was volunteering with the Placer Hills Fire District when he enlisted in the Army in 2005. “He planned on going into the National Guard and going back to Meadow Vista as a firefighter,” his father said. Following the soldier’s death, a memorial fund was established with the intent of purchasing lifesaving equipment for the department. “His mom and dad felt a connection with the fire department and their son,” explained Fire Chief Ian Gow. “They wanted to buy something that would be here for a long time.” Last week the department placed into service apparatus purchased in Spencer’s memory. The equipment, now on engines at the Applegate and Weimar stations, can be used to rescue individuals stranded in canyons or down steep hillsides. “He loved being a firefighter. His second love was the military,” his father said. “He was a giver in everything he did.” An U.S. Army paratrooper for 23 years, Spencer Sr. was surprised when his son decided to serve with the infantry. Even though they had talked many times about the horrors of war, he said his son felt compelled to serve. “He was always volunteering to go out and fill in with other platoons when they were short,” he said. Spencer was injured a few weeks before his death, but became restless. As he explained to his father on June 17 (Father’s Day), he had volunteered to go back into action. Eight days later, Spencer was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Bradley fighting vehicle. “I don’t think of his death as a waste,” Spencer Sr. said. “It was positive. He did something that he loved to do.” A plaque honoring the young man was placed at the Weimar fire station shortly after his death. His picture and the U.S. flag presented to the family by then-Congressman John Doolittle are also on display. In addition, Spencer’s name has been entered in the Fireman’s Hall of Honor. The young man’s death brought the war close to home, Gow said. “It was our first contact with somebody to be killed in the war,” he said.