by: RAY PITZ <b>HEADING OUT</b> – Rudy Oliveros and Howie Weaver are retiring after long and distinguished careers with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

Add up the time firefighters Howie Weaver and Rudy Oliveros have put in for Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, and you'll find the pair have more than 65 cumulative years of experience under their belts.

On July 13, the district paid tribute to the two firefighters in the truck and engine bays of Sherwood Fire Station No. 33, sending both into retirement with two large cakes and plaques of recognition.

Oliveros was first Hispanic

Not only did Rudy Oliveros distinguish himself as a top-notch firefighter during the 36 years he worked for Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, but he also has the distinction of being the first Hispanic hired by what was then the Beaverton Fire Department.

'Now we have about five or six Hispanics,' said Oliveros, who is retiring from the fire district after spending the last dozen years working out of Sherwood Station No. 33.

Starting with Beaverton's Brockman Road station in 1975, Oliveros would later spend a decade in the downtown Beaverton station (once one of the busiest stations in the district).

Oliveros worked one of Beaverton's largest fires, the Beaverton High School fire of 1979 where fellow firefighter Terry Bowman was seriously burned.

In fact, firefighters from Station 67, were the first to arrive at the scene.

Oliveros, 60, said he'll look at the time spent in Sherwood with affection and love, noting that the fire district's goal has been to make sure the residents of Sherwood see Station 33 as 'their station and we're their firemen.''

'The best thing with Sherwood, it has such a small-town attitude where everyone knows their neighbor,' said Oliveros, 60.

Oliveros said he'll always see his days spent with the fire district as much more than simply a career, 'it was like a ministry.'

'To me, it really wasn't a job, it was a calling.'

Weaver already involved in second career

Meanwhile, Howie Weaver said he too will miss his days as a career firefighter.

Weaver began his days in the district in 1979, stationed at the Sommerset West station on 185th Avenue in unincorporated Washington County. He would later spend 15 years at the Aloha Station 62 before spending a brief time at Oak Hills Station 68 and finishing his career at Cooper Mountain Station 69.

He also spent six months at Sherwood Station 33 as well.

In the end, Weaver put in 31 years, calling his career 'fantastic.'

'I wish I could put words to it,' he said. 'I'm humbled to have this opportunity.'

A Tigard resident, Weaver graduated along with 12 other firefighters from Chemeketa Community College.

In the last three decades, Weaver, 54, has seen numerous advances in fire services including increased training and equipment. The safety aspects have improved as well.

He was witness to one of the largest commercial fires in district history, the five-alarm Willamette Industries fire, which destroyed the building on Western Avenue in Beaverton in 1990.

Weaver said while he would have wanted some of the tragedies to turn out better (noting that he always 'wanted to do more') the victories were there as well.

Although now officially retired from the fire service, Weaver is far from retired and flies corporate jets for Barrett Business Services Inc. out of Vancouver, Wash.

'I'm the full-time chief pilot,' said Weaver, who's been flying since 1983.

In the end, it was the people he had the opportunity to work with over the years that made coming to work a pleasure, he pointed out.

'Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue produces a top-quality firefighter and I'm very privileged to be part of that,' he said.

TVF and R Chief Michael Duyck said the district was appreciative of everything Weaver and Oliveros accomplished during their careers, saying both have done so much for the community.

'They'll be sorely missed,' he said. 'We're very proud of them.'

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