HONEYVILLE - February 5, 2022
In 1992, a Honeyville farmer decided to share a little of his time with the community he had grown up in. On February 2, he joined the Honeyville Fire Department.
Thirty years later, Richie Aoki is still serving his community and the surrounding area as a volunteer member of the Central Box Elder Fire District. During a recent drill, Aoki was recognized for his years of involvement and dedication.
Aoki said he first joined the department because he worked close to home and being in town a good share of the time made him the perfect fit. He began with a First Responder class, then followed it up by getting his EMT-B. Since then, he has earned Firefighter 1 classification and received Hazmat Operations and Wildland Firefighter certifications.
His wealth of knowledge has been a boon the department as Aoki has mentored many of the newer members through the years and has always been willing to help where his skills are needed.
Jordan Andersen, another firefighter who has served as chief for the Honeyville department and is currently assistant fire chief for the district, has worked for more than 15 years with Aoki, and calls the experience a "pleasure."
"In all my time serving as an officer I have always been able to count on Richie and his commitment to serve the community and his fellow firefighters. No matter what the call, he has always been willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done."
The past 30 years have not always been easy, Aoki admits. He has responded to some tragic scenes, seen some deadly crashes and witnessed some devastating destruction. But he has also been able to be on hand to help friends and neighbors when they need it the most. Along the way, he has faced those circumstances with his every-present smile and his unique sense of humor, because, he said, “You have to or the things you see, and experience will haunt you and eat you up.”
On the lighter side of being a volunteer firefighter, Aoki is a mainstay in any local parade, grinning ear to ear under his broad-brim hat while sitting behind the wheel of one of the district’s fire engines. He has never missed Honeyville City’s 4th of July Firemen’s Breakfast and can often be found flipping pancakes, dishing up hash browns or doling out dry bits of wisdom.
Also adding to his commitment to Honeyville is the fact that he spent 12 years as a city councilman, six of those as mayor pro tem, and another four years as a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning board.
As for the 30-year recognition, Aoki is fast to play it down. “It is no big deal, it’s just something I do because I enjoy it,” he said.
Luckily for his hometown, he is looking forward to many more years of service.