Fortuna Fire Chief Speaks Out on Death of Fire Captain Tim Smith

Tim smith in a suit

Tim Smith receiving an award. [Photo from the Fortuna Fire Department]

This morning Fortuna Fire Chief Lon Winburn spoke out on his department’s Facebook page about the loss of Captain Tim Smith who was the victim of a homicide.

Winburn wrote,

The loss that we feel is extremely hard to put into words but I know I can speak for not only the members of our department but also the entire Humboldt County Fire Service in saying that Tim was one of those “one in a million” that you encounter in your lifetime. We were blessed with his presence here in our Department for 4 ½ years in which time he made an impression unlike no other. You have already heard of his back to back Firefighter of the Year awards, his participation with our local government strike teams, his involvement with and leadership of the Eel River Valley Technical Rescue Team, that he was a lead Instructor for the Eel River Volunteer Fire Academy and of his participation and efforts in the origination of the Bridgeville VFD – all of that only touches the tip of the iceberg.

The rest of the story is the day to day mentoring and training that he did with our younger firefighters, here at the station during trainings, on calls, on strike team and cover assignments – he has made a profound impact on those young people, our future leaders of the fire service. He has taught them a work ethic and a commitment to their community that they will remember and live by for the rest of their careers. And then there are the friendships that have been developed, how could you not appreciate and grow to love someone with such a positive attitude and can-do spirit? Odds were if you asked him to do something, he had probably already completed the task.
It goes without saying that Tim will be missed by us all; his constant smile, his love and dedication to his family, his passion for the fire service, commitment to the communities he served and his friendship. Tim’s memory and spirit will forevermore live on with the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department as well as the Humboldt County Fire Service.
Captain Tim Smith – Thank you for having been a part of us and rest in peace, we have the remainder of your shift covered.
Lon Winburn
Fire Chief
Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department
A memorial service for Tim has been scheduled for October 9th at the River Lodge in Fortuna, details are pending.
If you would like to make donations in Tim’s memory, a memorial account has been set up at Redwood Capital Bank in Fortuna. Donations may be made there, or at the Fortuna Firehall.

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  • I am very proud to have known Tim and his Family, both blood and extended, we had the pleasure to go on many trips with them and have great memories, he was a true hero and that’s just how we will remember him. Positive energy to Jessika, Timmy and Dougie, stay strong and take care of one another, as for Rachel I hope you heal and find the strength to move on.

    • Thanks for the kind words.

    • I was just talking with my wife about Tim and what a “full on” kind of guy he was. Hunting, fishing, driving the school bus, firefighting, Tim did it with passion. His attitude was sometimes comical because he was “into it” so much. I had been wanting to talk with Tim for sometime before this happened. I was waiting to bump into him so we could talk about fishing. I should have made a better effort. Peoples judgements about what he did outside of being a firefighter or the way his house looks, should take a moment and realize this man was an asset to his and other communities. I will always have some good and funny memories about Tim.

  • Just a tragedy all the way around. God bless everyone. Even the man who committed the crime. I would imagine he is suffering for his actions too.

  • This is a true tragedy no doubt but let’s remind all that 1 person does not make Fortuna Fire click on a day-to-day basis. There are many other individuals some with 10,20,30,50 years of dedicated service to the public in which they live. 4-1/2 years of service no matter what he accomplished should not take away from the other many years, hours, times away from home for meetings and drills that other members have accomplished. TS dedicated YES. a hero? Chief you have a void that will never be filled but give credit where credit is due. Not all in 1. Remember the motto/saying of the 3 musketeers? TS had the time to give over 100% for those that don’t does that make them less than a hero. The command staff should have never allowed 1 person to receive back to back firefighter of the year awards it sends the wrong message and may explain the lack of dedication by others. TS will never be forgotten!

  • “Who” Thank you for your support. I did not attack TS OBVIOUSLY I hit a nerve on anti am and Gazoo. Too bad so sad. No need to move just going to watch a department nose dive into????

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