Emily Spencer, Public Safety Award Recipient for 2002 | TheUnion.com
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Emily Spencer, Public Safety Award Recipient for 2002

Higgins Fire, as we know it today, would not exist without Emily.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Local law enforcement and fire protection agencies have always had a friend in Emily Spencer. For years and years, anytime space for a meeting or fundraiser was needed, Emily’s Red Wagon Restaurant was readily available. She and her daughters, Janet and Donna, opened their restaurant with a smile and willingly sponsored anything that law enforcement or fire protection asked.

One of the most significant contributions Emily has made to Nevada County was her role in the organization of an effort to bring year round fire protection to the south county. In the late seventies, it became clear to Emily that after the local CDF fire station closed down at the end of fire season; the community was left without fire protection. She and a few other concerned citizens set out to do something about it. Lake of the Pines had its own volunteer company, but that served only LOP. Outside of the Lake, there was no local fire service. Emily and three other residents began the push to bring fire protection to the south county.

Their efforts gained momentum within the community and in 1977 the Higgins Area Fire Protection District , in cooperation with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, was born.



Emily was not done yet. The new fire department needed financial support also, so she and her group of friends set about organizing the Higgins Fire Auxiliary, an organization which has provided moral and financial support over the years to Higgins Fire Department.

Emily is a charter member and past president of the Higgins Fire




Auxiliary. For many years the tomatoes, onions, and cheese for the Nachos Booth at the fair were prepared at the Red Wagon. The beans and chips were purchased through their suppliers. The Auxiliary has contributed more than $250,000 to the Higgins Fire Department through dues, raffles, and the Nacho’s Booth. This has enabled the department to purchase two rescue vehicles, the Jaws of Life, breathing apparatus, a variety of fire and rescue tools, and fire fighters’ protective wear.

Emily has infused the spirit of volunteerism into her family and they are also a huge support for South County Law Enforcement and fire protection. Her granddaughter, Nicki, is a volunteer with Higgins, as is her husband.

Emily serves as the unofficial employment agency for Higgins spouses and children and it is rare to go into the restaurant and not be served by someone connected with Higgins Fire.

Truly, Higgins Fire, as we know it today, would not exist without Emily. The South County residents owe her a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay.


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