There’s a bit of advice that retired battalion chief Wayne Garden used to tell the firefighters he helped train: “Don’t train until you get it right — train until you can’t get it wrong.”
His former colleague at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, Woody Juarez, called Garden’s advice a “Wayne-ism.” There were many of them.
That’s why the department named its newest training tower after the 67-year-old retired chief.
“Because of your dedication to the fire service and especially to Central Pierce, you’ve created a legacy and this tower represents your legacy,” Juarez, assistant chief for training, said at a dedication ceremony on Sept. 22.
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The training tower, located at Central Pierce’s Station 60 in Spanaway, was completed in November 2017 as part of a $39.8 million facilities bond. At four stories tall, the tower is equipped with two burn rooms meant to simulate house fires.
“It’s a huge advantage for not only Central Pierce but for surrounding districts,” Juarez said in an interview with The Herald last year. “Ultimately, the benefit goes to the citizens.”
Several Central Pierce staff members championed the tower to be named after Garden.
“I was overwhelmed,” Garden told The Herald. “My family and me were overwhelmed. Never thought it would happen.”
Garden has left his mark not only at Central Pierce but in training programs across the state.
Originally from Chicago, Garden began his career in the fire service at 21. After moving to Parkland, he was hired at Central Pierce in 1972. He currently lives in Parkland with his wife of 45 years, Becky.
Throughout his career, Garden trained thousands of recruits and was a key player in helping create the training center in North Bend in the 1980s, which trains recruits from across the state.
“Training requirements became more and more stringent,” Garden said. “Because of evolution of the fire service throughout the nation, more and more requirements were being placed.”
In 2016, Garden retired, but Juarez estimates he’s helped train more than 1,500 people since then.
Across the state, Garden is known for his tough love and passion for the fire service.
“It’s an honor to have (the Garden) name… and to go around the state, and people know who I am and what family I came from,” said Johnny Garden, Wayne Garden’s son who works in law enforcement. “It wasn’t just my family, it was Central Pierce.”
At the ceremony, Garden thanked those who helped him throughout his career. Fire Chief Dan Olson applauded his work.
“Chief Garden’s passion for the fire service and how he brought it emotionally to his career really changed Central Pierce forever,” Olson said. “He’s an icon of culture and has really set the bar in many ways for what all of us strive to be.”
On the plaque placed on the tower in honor of Garden, another “Wayne-ism”:
“I am not here for me, I am here for we, and we are here for them.”