The faded 1947 Dodge fire truck the young Hutchison brothers made their first runs aboard doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
The twin siblings, on the other hand, are still likely to roll out the firehouse door whenever there’s smoke showing near Rio Vista.
“We go to fires,” Dale Hutchison said. “Most people run from a fire.”
Dale and Gail Hutchison are not the Rio Vista Volunteer Fire Department’s organization’s longest-serving firefighters — one member logged 53 years — but that didn’t keep their colleagues from recognizing the pair’s combined 80 years of unpaid labor at a recent dinner.
“They’ve done everything from mop the floor to run the organization,” said Rio Vista firefighter Rick Cumins. “They’re just the guys you go to for information.”
As far as Cindy Clewis was concerned, after four decades of their helping friends and neighbors, the honors were the least folks in Rio Vista could do for the veteran volunteers.
“They’re pretty much icons of the fire department,” said Clewis, a Rio Vista firefighter who helps run a feed store near the station when she’s not responding to calls. “They started back in the days when they’d go get the sons out of school to help ’em’.”
If they’d had their way, both would have been professional firefighters. But in the days when they were getting started, there were fewer training slots and full-time, paid firefighting jobs.
“It was just harder to get training back then,” said Dale, the twin with a mustache. “If I was a young guy in my 20s, I’d definitely try to be a paid fireman.”
The Hutchisons have been around Rio Vista most of their lives.
After high school, Dale went to work at Santa Fe’s Cleburne workshops. Gail was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.