Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District saluted two retiring engineers Saturday. James McMenimen leaves the department after 30 years, Rick Knee after 27.
“When I started it was pretty simple,” McMenimen said. Fewer rules to follow, fewer regulations to enforce. Decades of house fires, glass plant furnace blowouts and assorted other disasters behind him, McMenimen said the toughest calls were the car wrecks with kids.
“It’s still a great job. I’d recommend it to anybody,” he said.
Knee started his fire career as a volunteer. Those were the days before the fire service responded to medical calls.
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Firefighter wear and equipment has changed substantially, Knee noted. For example, standard breathing apparatus took effort to get oxygen, unlike today’s pressurized systems. “Another 25 years, they’ll probably have us looking like Martians,” he said with a grin.
As one Knee leaves, another remains. Son Casey Knee now drives the rig his dad did for so long. The younger Knee joined Stanislaus Consolidated after a stint in the Army, serving two tours in Iraq. He started two years ago, working a separate shift from his dad.