New California Station To Be Named For Former Chief

Name: Bob Pastor

Age: 66

Residence: He is a lifelong resident of Knightsen.

Occupation: He is a former volunteer firefighter, captain, assistant fire chief and fire chief of the local fire district. Pastor also once owned a trucking business that delivered products seasonally for the California Almond Growers Exchange.

Education: He is a 1956 graduate of Liberty High School.

Family: Pastor has been married to Charlotte for 43 years. The couple has two adult children. Their son, Scott, is a fire captain in Oakland. Their daughter, Robin, owns a local produce business. The couple has two grandchildren, Alec and Lauren.

Background: Fire Station 94 in Knightsen will now be named the Robert V. Pastor Fire Station 94 in recognition of his 43 years of service through the former Oakley-Knightsen Fire District. The retired fire chief left a few years ago before several local fire districts merged to create the current East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

The county Board of Supervisors bestowed this honor on Pastor in May. The formal dedication ceremony will be Sept. 18 at 2 p.m.

A custom sign will be installed at the station, which is at 15 A Street. The station's younger generation still calls him "chief," although he no longer officially holds that title.

What do you like about the area? "The people were always good to us. Everyone supports the fire district," he said. "You have a good school out here in Knightsen. Everyone says hi when you walk around downtown or go into the post office."

How do you feel about the fire station being renamed in your honor? "I have never had anything given to me as far as fame," Pastor said. "This is the biggest thing that has happened to me since getting married."

What inspired you to pursue firefighting? At the age of 15, Pastor was asked to help some volunteer firefighters and he was instantly hooked. He became a volunteer firefighter at the age of 21.

What does the fire district mean to you? Pastor says he always enjoyed the family-oriented structure of the former fire district where fathers and sons would work side by side as volunteer firefighters. Pastor's son started his fire training in the rural community and his brother-in-law was the fire chief before him.

In the past, firefighters would donate money for local charities, distribute food baskets, provide scholarships and organize special events for the holidays. They would also rescue cats from trees or telephone poles for their neighbors.

"You enjoy helping people. In a small town, that is what it is all about," he said.

For years, the fire station was his home away from home. He often spent more time there than at home.

What does it mean to be a volunteer firefighter? "It is like a second job," he said. "They care more because they don't have to do this. They really want to do this."

What was your scariest moment as a firefighter? He said it was a "spooky" situation when Holland Tract flooded in 1980. When the levee broke, emergency officials responded but couldn't do much to save the one fisherman and 1,200 cattle that drowned. "It was a sickening and sad feeling," he said.

Best part of the job? "I like the public education. When little kids come here and you teach them about fire safety," he said. "You think someday someone's life is going to be saved because of this. Those kids come back and tell stories of how they used that information in some way."

Worst part? "I never had bad times," Pastor said. "It is just a lot of work."

Hobbies? In his spare time, Pastor works on the 10 vintage cars and pickups stored on his seven-acre property. Right now, he is restoring a 1956 Chevy Bel Air.

He also enjoys going fishing several times each summer with his friends from the fire station.

Favorite movie? "I like western movies with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood more than any other movies," he said.

Last book you read? "I'm not much of a reader," Pastor said. "I like automobile restoration books."