Former Chief of the Eureka Fire Department dies at age 76

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EUREKA- A long time chief of the Eureka Fire Department passed away Monday at the age of 76.

Flags at the five Humboldt Bay Fire stations are at half staff Tuesday for Vern Cooney, who died after a five year battle with cancer.  He joined the Eureka Fire Department in 1961 and served as Chief from 1983 to 1994.  He was instrumental in bringing the 911 system to Eureka and for the consolidation of the Eureka Fire Department and Humboldt Fire District #1 into Humboldt Bay Fire.  Friends describe him as a hard worker who deeply cared about his community.

"He cared a lot about the City of Eureka.  When there were issues, and I look at even simple little things, like we needed a sidewalk or a curb or a gutter around the firehouse.  If there wasn't funding for that or the capability to pull it off, in a couple days you'd look and there would be Vern on his day off out here digging ditches and putting in forms and the next thing you know that sidewalk was around the back of the firehouse where he wanted it," said John McFarland, who was the Chief of the Eureka Fire Department from 1992-2002 and knew Vern Cooney for more than 40 years.