U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
California

News.bytes News.bytes Extra, issue 256

Training Center dedicated in memory of Ted Overton

He devoted 31 summers to fire fighting in northeast California.

From the observation seat in an air attack aircraft to the driver's seat in a fireline supply truck, the late Ted Overton was always willing to do whatever was necessary to protect California's citizens and lands from fire. A seasonal BLM employee, Overton was killed in an auto accident in 1997 while he was on duty supporting crews battling a wildfire north of Eagle Lake in Lassen County.

Below, Ted Overton poses with his air attack plane in 1981.
Ted Overton poses with his air attack plane in 1981

Earlier this month, members of the regional fire community joined with about 40 members of Overton's family to dedicate to his memory a multi-agency fire training center. Nearly 100 people, including about 40 members of the Overton family, attended the event. Below, Mary Overton, Ted's wife, pulled a royal blue covering from a memorial stone that will impart the Overton legacy to all who enter the training facility. Four of the Overton siblings look on.

Ted Overton's wife Mary and four of the Overton siblings stand near a memorial stone in front of the training facility.

"We have waited a long time to dedicate a memorial to Ted," said BLM NorCal Fire Management Officer Paul Whitcome. "When the interagency fire center moved out of this building two years ago we got the chance to establish a training center. It was fitting that we placed a memorial here, where future generations of fire fighters can be inspired by Ted's legacy of excellence in public service."

Below, a display of fire engines from area agencies formed a backdrop for the ceremony.

a display of fire engines from area agencies formed a backdrop for the ceremony

The new training facility was developed in a building that housed the Susanville Interagency Fire Center from its inception in 1974 until its move to a new facility in 2004. To date, more than 500 fire fighters and support personnel have trained in a classroom situated in an area that once housed the dispatch consoles. After touring the training facility, members of the Overton family were treated to a tour of the new state-of-the-art dispatch center, below.

After touring the training facility, members of the Overton family were treated to a tour of the new state-of-the-art dispatch center

A special moment in the dedication ceremony was a letter of recognition from U. S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. In honor of the occasion, the senator forwarded a flag that had been flown over the U. S. Capitol. Below, BLM Eagle Lake Field Manager Dayne Barron presented the flag to Mrs. Overton.

BLM Eagle Lake Field Manager Dayne Barron presents Mrs. Overton with a flag that had been flown over the U. S. Capitol.

Overton's former colleagues came from across California to participate in the event, adding their own special touches. Below, Mary Overton beams as she reads a water bottle label emblazoned with "Ted Overton Training Center." Forest Service employee Rick Addy, a former co-manager of SIFC, arranged for the special labeling.

Mary Overton beams as she reads a water bottle label emblazoned with

Overton, a high school wood shop teacher from Colusa, began spending his summers as a seasonal BLM employee in 1966. Over the years, he worked as a fire engine crew boss, fire station manager in Ravendale and Cedarville, air attack boss, aviation and initial attack dispatcher and warehouseman. He also worked as a BLM fire prevention officer, training officer and safety officer.

"What we all admired most about Ted was his 'can do' attitude," Whitcome said. " He built the living quarters at the BLM Observation Fire Lookout, and played a large role in expanding the dispatch center. We literally owe the roof over our heads to Ted," he added, referring to the training center. "One of the last things Ted did for us was to put a new roof on this building."

- Jeff Fontana, 11/06


BLM California News.bytes, issue 256