Familiar face returns to firefighting in county
The Tulare County Fire Department recently hired six new lieutenants. The fire lieutenants are the first level of a fire company officer who will be working in one of Tulare County’s 23 different fire stations.
But one familiar face stood out among the fire lieutenants during a pinning ceremony on April 26 at the Exeter Historical Museum. His name was Wesley Grim.
Less than a month after retiring from Cal Fire after 33 years of firefighting in California, the former Exeter Fire Captain applied for an open lieutenant’s position with TCFD.
“I love the job and couldn’t stay away,” said Grim. “So I decided to work for the county.”
While Grim has never worked as an employee of Tulare County, he did spend 8 years as Fire Captain at the Exeter Fire Station. For most of its history, Tulare County contracted with Cal Fire for fire protection services. The County owned all of its stations and equipment, but contracted with the state fire agency to provide full-time firefighters and training to local volunteers as part of Cal Fire (formerly CDF) Tulare Unit. In 2007, Tulare County decided to form its own fire department to better manage its costs. After the split, Grim went to work at Cal Fire’s Woodlake station to continue providing wildfire protection in the dry foothills and mountains of Tulare County.
“I enjoy the community involvement and firefighting in general,” Grim said. “With my experience, I can give some of that knowledge back to the County, which is still a young department.”
Grim began working as a Seasonal Firefighter with California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) in 1979. He received a permanent appointment as Firefighter II in Riverside California in 1986 and was promoted to the rank of Fire Captain in 1990. Captain Grim was the face of the Exeter Fire Station for more than seven years. Grim was last assigned to the Mountain Home Conservation Camp as Fire Crew Captain before retiring last October. He has served as a volunteer firefighters in Exeter since his retirement and you might have seen him driving the City’s street sweeper as well.
“I was one of the few people in town with the time and license to drive the equipment,” Grim said.
Throughout Grim’s years of service, he has received honors both locally and at the state level. In 2006, Grim was named Exeter’s “Man of the Year” for his years of dedication as the Exeter Little League President and for organizing a Christmas Tree Gift Drive for underprivileged children in the area. In 2007, he received Cal Fire’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, his heroic actions to rescue an 11-month old child from a burning house. During the residential fire in Exeter, Grim entered a burning house through a bedroom window to retrieve the infant boy from the bed. Grim was able to emerge from the flames with the child, unfortunately the baby did not survive. It was the only fatality on record during his eight-year career with Exeter Fire and his courage was recognized by the community, his coworkers and ultimately, the State.
“It’s been 33 years since I applied for a position so I’m glad I got it,” Grim said.
The other Lieutenants recently hired by TCFD were Kevin Hesterlee, Shammoth Myers, Justin Vincent, Brian Duffy and Michael Canales. The new lieutenant’s participated in a five week fire academy learning the different dynamics of a single person engine company.