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Fire house sees changing of guard

Dwight Lanter steps down as Jordan Ruiz steps up


LanterThe year was 1985. Ronald Reagan was president, tickets to the new Michael J. Fox “Back to the Future” movie were $2.75, a gallon of gas cost $1.09 — and a young Dwight Lanter donned a blue uniform and climbed on a bright green fire engine to begin his career as a full-time firefighter with Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.

Bringing with him years of experience as an intern with the Astoria Fire Department and as a volunteer with the neighboring Cornelius Fire Department, the home-grown boy from the family farm south of town who built fire engines for Western States Fire Apparatus in Cornelius was a perfect fit to be Forest Grove’s newest firefighter.

Lanter has since moved up the ranks, serving at one time as the department’s training officer and finally as a shift captain. On July 1, Lanter will retire after 28 years of serving the community where he grew up, raised two sons who went on to work in fire service themselves — and where he nurtured many new FGF&R recruits.

“He literally feels like my third dad,” said Lt. Tony Carter. “When I came here as a straight-out-of-high-school teenager in our resident volunteer program, Dwight helped me tremendously to understand that being a quality firefighter is as much about compassion for your community as it is about fire hoses and ladders.”

As the sun sets on Lanter’s career, it’s rising for current FGF&R Intern Jordan Ruiz, who begins working full-time July 1.

Ruiz, a native of San Jose, Calif., was chosen out of nearly 100 applicants. A graduate of Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in biology, he currently holds certifications as an Oregon Paramedic and an advanced life-support responder. He also speaks fluent Spanish — the second firefighter in the department to do so.Ruiz

Outside of firefighting, Ruiz keeps physically active. As a high school student, he competed in the Colt Baseball World Series, defeating the Puerto Rican team to win the championship round. He recently competed in an Ironman triathlon.

Ruiz, 27, said he’s drawn to the sense of “family” he feels with his FGF&R colleagues — an important feature for a man from a close Italian family who still gathers with relatives on traditional Italian holidays to make hundreds of homemade ravioli.

“It’s tough to lose three decades of experience with Dwight’s retirement,” said Fire Chief Michael Kinkade. “But while we are wishing Dwight the best, at the same time we are super excited to be able to add a quality young firefighter in Jordan to our firehouse family.”

Dave Nemeyer is the Fire Marshal and public information officer for Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.

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