When Raymond C. Marquardt joined the in 1967 as a volunteer firefighter, the men were called Smoke Eaters and used little of the safety equipment modern firefighters have available.
As a result, years of smoke inhalation left Mr. Marquardt with a lung and heart disability when he finally retired from the district in 1999 as a lieutenant. He succumbed to those ailments at age 70 in 2009 but left a legacy and family tradition for his children and grandchildren.
“When Dad started as a firefighter they didn’t have air packs,” said his son, Ray Marquardt, an engineer with the Orland Fire District. “His death was considered an on-duty death because he was injured on the job for all of those years.”
Raymond C. Marquardt was honored by the Orland Fire District and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2754 in a remembrance service recently. A ribbon with his name on it was donated to the district by the union.
“Dad had a passion for firefighting,” said his son. “He wasn’t expecting anything. He didn’t get the job to be a hero.”
Raymond C. Marquardt was previously honored last year when his name was added to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colo. His family attended the service.
“It’s like the Vietnam Memorial Wall,” explained his son. “Names of fallen firefighters are etched on the wall.”
Raymond C. Marquardt started as a volunteer and worked as a boat mechanic until being hired as a full-time firefighter in 1977. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1981 and remained a dedicated firefighter until his retirement.
He was a founding member of the Orland firefighters union IAFF Local 2754 in 1980.
His passion for firefighting rubbed off on his family. Son Ray has been with the Orland Fire District for 22 years. His other son Brent Marquardt is a lieutenant with the Homer Township Fire Protection District. Four grandchildren are firefighters as is a nephew of Ray’s.
“Our sister tried but had a family instead,” Ray said with a laugh. “But she could have been one if she had stuck with it.”