Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Fairfield firefighters, hired the same day 30 years ago, retire Tuesday

retiring firefighters, 12/9/13

Fairfield Fire Department Engineer Randy Engell, left, and Capt. Monty Fortney are both retiring after long careers with the department. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page A3 | December 11, 2013 | 6 Comments

FAIRFIELD — They were hired by the Fairfield Fire Department the same day 30 years ago – and Capt. Monty Fortney and Fire Engineer Randy Engell both retire Tuesday, with baseball a part of the two men’s plans.

Fortney will drive a travel trailer and follow his son Chad, 21, a Vacaville High School and Solano College graduate, as he plays baseball for Culver-Stockton College in Missouri. Engell plans to visit stadiums including Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox play.

The captain and fire engineer spoke Monday at Station 37 about three decades with the Fire Department. Fortney recalls helping deliver a baby on the day a new fire chief began work.

“I actually caught the baby,” Fortney said, a role Engell described as quarterback.

Engell remembers responding with a crew to a call on Washington Street, where he was raised. A woman who had gone to school with his parents had chest pains and firefighters were able to bring her back to life after her heart stopped. She is alive today, Engell said.

The life-and-death work of firefighting can come with a cost. Engell, 52, had a heart attack as a 38-year-old and decided for his health to demote himself from captain to fire engineer. Fortney, 53, re-injured his shoulder Aug. 27, fighting the Marigold Fire, and has a second surgery planned.

Erratic winds of up to 15 mph helped spread the fire that destroyed five homes and damaged at least 10 others. Fortney said wind in Fairfield is among the challenges the department faces.

“Firefighters don’t put out wind-driven fires out,” he explained. Such blazes subside or a natural barrier ends their progress, the fire captain said.

Engell, whose family was involved with the Cordelia Fire District, joined the district as a 14-year-old volunteer and the 1980 graduate of Armijo High School later began with the Fairfield Fire Department. He concludes his career with 30 years of memories.

“We all remember,” Engell said, “even the little details on every fire.”

Ask the two men about whether movies and TV programs show the reality of firefighting and they agree Hollywood has a talent for embellishment. Engell said actors portraying firefighters on film are given special masks so their faces are visible.

Fortney said he and Engell spent three decades doing what firefighters do.

They don’t want to be recognized as doing anything special, Fortney said.

“We always felt we were doing our job,” he said.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 6 comments

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  • FF64December 09, 2013 - 8:57 pm

    Congratulations Gentlemen! Well done! Now enjoy your well earned retirement!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DStevensDecember 10, 2013 - 8:25 am

    Randy – you have always been someone I look-up too, when you were a Jr. FF at CFD, seeing you at Allan Witt Park while you worked in the gym or Plunge, when you were hired at FFD or having you in a class when I was older, you are always someone I modeled myself after, respectful, honorable… the day you visited Dad while he was sick, was incredibly appreciated; Dad had the utmost respect for you. Thank you for being a great role model!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jennifer EngellDecember 10, 2013 - 11:36 am

    Great job guys and the city will surely miss you! As an Engell myself I am especially proud of Randy and all the hard work firefighters do every day! Thank you for saving lives and bringing lives into the world safely.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Judy EngellDecember 10, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Yay for fabulous firefighters! Congrats on the retirement!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • KeiraDecember 10, 2013 - 3:31 pm

    Randy - this was just preparation for more great things to come - right? Great legacy you started there, and another Engell now has the reigns.. :)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rfdcapteng62aDecember 10, 2013 - 8:47 pm

    congratulations to both of you! randy-congratulations my friend, seems like just yesterday we we started this wonderful career, hope you have a great retirement and many more years of enjoying your family!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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