Retired firefighter recalls days on the line

PORT TOWNSEND — In June 1956, Ed Lindsey passed a civil service exam and was hired to be the third paid firefighter in the city of Port Townsend.

Less than a month later, the other two employees left, catapulting Lindsey into the senior position.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the day Lindsey joined the Port Townsend Fire Department, where he went “straight up the ladder” to become the city’s first paid assistant fire chief.

Although his career was cut short by illness, Lindsey is a living link to the days when a firefighter’s main job was to actually fight fires.

“Three-fourths of the calls now are medical,” he says.

“We had no medical service whatsoever — we didn’t have the facilities to transport.”

Lindsey, 75, has a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and photographs from his career, but he doesn’t need them to recall the names, dates and details of the major fires he fought.

Among them is the blaze that destroyed the Hill-Landis Building on Water Street, in the still partially empty block where the Green Eyeshade is.

The call came in at 2 a.m. on Dec. 28, 1958, Lindsey recalls.

“It lit up the night,” he says of the flames.

And it almost took the life of a firefighter.

Lindsey vividly remembers the moment when he and Skip Lewis watched helplessly as a wall collapsed and came crashing down on Ted Baker.

“We saw the bricks fall,” Lindsey says.

“We uncovered him, put him in the back of Skip’s truck and rushed him up to St. John’s Hospital. He lived, but was on light duty when he returned.”

The downtown fire was the scariest one he ever fought, Lindsey says, because could have taken a whole block with it.

As it was, the pump truck worked faithfully for three days and two nights, he says, drawing salt water out of the bay.

Afterward, the Bremerton fire chief commended the Port Townsend Fire Department for a wonderful “stop,” Lindsey says, and told the department he didn’t know how the fire didn’t take out the whole downtown.

“You always want to get ahead of your fire and keep it from traveling,” Lindsey says.

More in News

tsr
Mobile Healing Clinic to start in Clallam Bay on Monday

RV offers similar MAT services as Sequim facility

Finalists for the 2023 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award include, front row, from left, Carol Labbe and Pauline Olsen. Not pictured is the award recipient, Renne Emiko Brock, who was unable to attend the chamber’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday. Pictured with Labbe and Olsen are, back row, from left, chamber President Eran Kennedy, chamber Executive Director Beth Pratt and Lorie Fazio, Citizen of the Year committee chair. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Art advocate Brock named Sequim Citizen of Year

Labbe, Olsen finalists for town’s top civic award

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams, 4 1/2, and Millie, 2, all from Port Townsend, down a snow hill at Port Townsend High School on Tuesday. An overnight storm passed through but not before depositing about 3 inches of soft powder, which melted rapidly as the day warmed. The blast of snowfall was largely confined to the area around Port Townsend and Port Hadlock overnight into Tuesday morning on the North Olympic Peninsula. Another weather system was coming in on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to drop rain in the lowlands and snow in the mountains on Wednesday and early Thursday, according to meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch with the National Weather Service in Seattle. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Downhill sledding

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams,… Continue reading

waddell
Clallam PUD seeks replacement for Waddell

Applicants for the Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner seat… Continue reading

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’

Solar array, battery storage to be installed on Port Angeles Senior Center

System could provide hours of backup power in case of an outage

UPDATE: Power restored between Sequim, Port Angeles

A tree has been removed from a Clallam County PUD… Continue reading

Road work to close Quinault Loop

Work crews from Haztech Drilling will begin geotechnical drilling… Continue reading

Fiber gathering Thursday at Studio Bob

Marva Holmes will host “St*tch & B*tch” at 4:30… Continue reading

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

Donations still will be used in May rebuild

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading