• TCVFD Honors Dick Hamilton - 2011

  • On August 14, Trinity Center will honor retired Fire Chief Dick Hamilton for his 46 years of service, including 40 years as Fire Chief of the Trinity Center VFD. The Trinity Center fire hall will be dedicated and named in his honor as a tribute to his decades of service to the residents and visitors to the North Lake area.

    Born at home on a ranch near Cottonwood, Robert Richard Hamilton grew up an outdoorsman—fishing, riding and hunting. Dick went to grammar school and high school in Los Molinos where his family had a dairy. After a stint in the Navy as a gunnery instructor near the end of WW II, Dick returned to Los Molinos and took a job as a land surveyor.

    In 1948, Dick went to work at Scott’s Ranch resort as a packer, wrangler, and ranch hand. He met Mary Scott at the ranch, and they were married in 1950. Dick began logging on the ranch with Mary running a loader. They started their own logging business in 1956.

    When construction for Trinity Lake started, Dick and Mary helped clear the valley, as well as the land for the new Trinity Center and Trinity Lake Knolls subdivisions. They lived at the Scott ranch while their new home was built in new Trinity Center in 1959. Dick surveyed the water ditch providing the water supply to Trinity Center.

    In August 1959, the Freethy Gulch Forest Fire burned from south of Trinity Center all the way north to Azalea Street. The new town residents worked to save their new homes, most of which were between Azalea and Swift Creek. This incident likely gave birth to the idea of forming a formal fire department. The old towns of Trinity Center and Stringtown below the lake did not have a fire department.

    In the summer of 1961, the county formed a community services district to provide various services to the new town of Trinity Center, including fire protection. Dick Hamilton was elected Assistance Chief of the newly formed VFD and served two chiefs in that role until 1966 when Dick was unanimously elected chief.


  • Dick served as chief until his retirement in June 2007. Folks who know Dick describe him as calm, level-headed, and visionary. He was the guy you wanted in charge when an emergency arose. However, always self-effacing, he would deflect credit to the community and department staff. While never fond of the paperwork required for the department to operate, Dick introduced many innovations.

    Under Dick’s leadership, the department added emergency medical services to its capabilities, providing the first of only three VFDs in the county with ambulance service. The Carrville communications repeater was Dick’s initiative. This repeater, on a hill above Carrville, provides critical emergency radio service to the northeast corner of Trinity County. Dick got the repeater building donated, negotiated the land lease with SPI, and built the road to the site. He even went up in winter to check on the facility, plowing the road with his own Cushman snow cat.

    As a quiet, take-charge chief, Dick felt responsible for the quality of service provided to the community. Naturally, this extended to assuring the quality of the desserts served at the annual VFD barbecue fund-raiser. With his connoisseur’s sweet tooth, Dick would sample the desserts to assure that guests would be pleased. Tough duty, but someone had to do it!

    Dick was recognized for his years of service by resolution of the Trinity County Board of Supervisors in September 2007.

    According to current Fire Chief Ken Rieke, “In this 50th anniversary year of the Trinity Center Volunteer Fire Department, it is fitting that we recognize the enormous contribution Dick made to the safety of our community for over four decades. We are pleased to be able to dedicate the fire hall to Dick, who, along with many other townsfolk, built this fire hall with their own hands and money.”