LAKE ROESIGER — “Long hours, no pay.”
That was the sign posted in front of the Lake Roesiger Fire Department that inspired Dan Rogers to volunteer three years ago, the firefighter recalled.
“It just seemed silly, personable,” he said.
Last week, volunteers posted their own message: “Brian and Marnie — 92 years answering the call. Happy retirement.”
Lake Roesiger Fire Chief Brian Anderson and his wife Marnie Anderson, an EMT, retired after a combined 92 years with the all-volunteer department. Firefighters held a celebration for the two on Thursday.
“It’s a family,” Rogers said. “They are parental to a lot of us.”
In 1976, the newlywed Andersons became volunteer firefighters, following in the footsteps of both of their fathers.
At the time, most residents of the small community worked elsewhere, leaving the area uncovered during the day, Marnie Anderson said. While still in college, she signed up to volunteer, three months after Brian Anderson joined the department.
“It was something you did for your community — you volunteered to help where you could,” Marnie Anderson said.
She said a group of neighbors formed Snohomish County Fire District 16 in 1955. The district initially provided service to 7 miles around Lake Roesiger. It now covers about 40 square miles between Granite Falls and Monroe.
In the beginning, the district funded itself through an annual Fourth of July Celebration, Marnie Anderson said. Today, it is financed by taxes.
After starting with two fire trucks from the 1940s, the department now uses state-of-the-art equipment, she said. Volunteers receive the same training as paid firefighters and EMTs, and some have traveled to Eastern Washington and California to fight wildfires.
Locally, the district responded to 211 calls last year — about 80% medical and 20% fire calls, Brian Anderson said.
Tom Foster, a longtime friend and a volunteer firefighter of 20 years, said the Andersons “were instrumental in the progression of this fire department.”
He said the two expanded the district’s boundaries and installed fire hydrants around the lake. Almost every fire district in the county has full-time firefighters. Fire District 16 is the exception. It’s all-volunteer.
“We’re filling a niche that’s reasonable to the taxpayers and gives them the best value for their dollar,” Foster said.
As chief, Brian Anderson was paid a “small stipend.”
Like other volunteers, the Andersons balanced their volunteer work with jobs and family.
Marnie Anderson taught elementary school in the Snohomish School District for 17 years, while Brian Anderson worked as a paid firefighter with Snohomish County Fire District 1. He also taught fire training at Everett Community College.
Brian Anderson became chief of the Lake Roesiger Fire Department in 1997. He said he is proud of the department’s 20 volunteers.
“We have done very well with people that we have,” he said.
Other family members will carry on the legacy. Their son Scott Anderson and their son-in-law Justin Johnson are both battalion chiefs. Together, they’ll take the reins until a new chief is named.
Marnie Anderson said she will miss her volunteer coworkers the most. She won’t miss having to leave birthday parties and holiday dinners to respond to a call.
But it’s part of the job, she said.
“The best volunteers we get are people who are willing to get up in the middle of the night, leave Easter dinner, and get back three hours later,” Marnie Anderson said. “They are doing the job because they want to give back to the community.”