The Penn Valley Fire Protection District administrative office is located at 10513
Spenceville Road in penn Valley. This site includes the St. 43 crew quarters, apparatus
bay and a meeting/training room.
Gene Vander Plaats, Fire Chief
Fire Chief Gene Vander Plaats came to the Penn Valley Fire Protection District in June of
2004 after serving the Ripon Consolidated Fire District for 28 years, the last 16 years as
their Fire Chief. The Fire Chief is hired by and receives direction from the Board of
Directors of the District. He is responsible for all day-to-day operations of the Fire District
which include fire suppression, fire investigation, fire prevention, emergency medical
response, technical rescue, hazardous material response and other related services.
Fire Chief Gene Vander Plaats has been in the fire and medical emergency service since
beginning as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician in 1972. He completed the
paramedic program and was hired by the Ripon Consolidated Fire District in 1975 working
his way up to Fire Chief in 1988. He also served as a Flight Paramedic for an air
ambulance program for 9 years.
Don Wagner, Battalion Chief
While on my way home from work with my father there was a column of smoke and being
my father was a volunteer we went directly to the fire house. I watched as my father went
off to fight a grass fire. In the meantime I was standing around when another fire broke
out just behind the station and as more volunteers came to the station, I was told to grab some
gear and jump on the engine. That started it all. I joined the all volunteer fire dept, was
issued gear, a pager and started responding to calls, back in those days it did not take
much training especially in a small town to be a volunteer. That was back in 1986.
I then went on to become an EMT 1 in 1990 that led to Paramedic school in 1992. I was
first certified as a Paramedic in 1993. I worked for Foothill ambulance that later became
Sacramento Life Support from 1991 to 1993. I applied to and was subsequently hired as a
full time Firefighter Paramedic here in Penn Valley back in 1996. I remained at Wilton as a
Firefighter/Paramedic as well as serving as an elected Board member from 1996 through
1999. In 1998 I resigned from Wilton as having a family, working full time, being on the
Board and volunteering was taking up all of my time.
I have remained here at Penn Valley rising through the ranks from Firefighter to now
Battalion Chief and remain currently licensed as a Paramedic.
Debbie Hughes, Office Manager
Debbie Hughes started part-time with the Penn Valley Firefighter’s Association in 1989,
one year after moving here from San Jose. In January 1990 she also simultaneously
worked part-time as a clerk for the Penn Valley Fire Protection District. Two years later she
went full-time with the District where she has worked her way up to Office Manager.
Although at times Debbie wears many different hats (Secretary to the Board, human
resources, administrative support services) the main focus of her job is ambulance billing.