Russell Wenke, a former longtime firefighter, fire marshal and administrator in Cody, was recently inducted into the Wyoming Firefighters Hall of Fame in recognition for the lifetime dedication to the fire service.
Current Park County Fire District No. 2 administrator Jerry Parker nominated Wenke.
Wenke began his career in the fire service as a volunteer for Big Horn Fire District No. 2 in February of 1977. He served as chief of the department in 1984 until he resigned in November of 1989 when he accepted the position of fire marshal for Park County Fire District No. 2 in Cody.
In December of 1992 Wenke also assumed the responsibilities of administrator to the district until 2007 when staffing changes took place and would become district administrator, which he served as until his retirement in May of 2016. Wenke was also the County Fire Warden from 1991 until 2019.
Wenke obtained his Fire Science Degree from Casper College in 1990 and completed the four year Executive Fire Officer Program from the National Fire Academy in 1995. In March of 2006, he became the first chief officer in Wyoming to be awarded the Chief Fire Officer designation by the Commission on Fire Service Accreditation International.
Wenke’s wildland certifications include Engine Strike Team Leader, Division Group Supervisor, Type II Safety Officer, Structure Protection Specialist and Type III Incident Commander.
He served on the Governor’s Commission on Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety from 1995 through 2001. He also served as the Secretary for the Wyoming Fire Service Legislative Committee and worked as a volunteer lobbyist each year during the legislature. Wenke was elected to the Wyoming State Forestry Fire Advisory Board in 2003 until 2018 and served as Secretary/Treasurer. He is also a past president of the Wyoming Fire Chiefs Association.
Wenke continues to further his education by taking classes himself to better train firefighters. He has taught many classes nationally and at the Wyoming Fire Academy that include career, volunteer and wildland firefighters. He continues to train the next generation of firefighter’s even after his retirement from Park County. He also continues to take fire assignments for Wildland Fires.
“You will be hard pressed to find a man who has dedicated his life to the fire service more than Russ,” Parker wrote in his nomination. “Russ is also dedicated to his family as a father, husband and brother. Russ has strong religious beliefs and dedicates much time volunteering to his church. He is a man you can be proud to call your friend.”