Payback was as sweet as the irony on Friday morning when a Hermiston police officer needed rescuing from a roof.

Just a week earlier, the Hermiston Police Department had poked fun at the neighboring Umatilla County Fire District 1 on Facebook, asking people to not leave valuables in plain sight in their vehicles so that “we have more time to help Umatilla County Fire District #1 get cats out of trees.”

So when the call came through dispatch asking for assistance for an officer who had climbed onto the roof of O’Reilly Auto Parts to look for a trespasser, the fire district was delighted to bring a ladder truck — and post plenty of pictures to Facebook.

“Took a break from our busy day of saving cats out of trees to help one of our fellow brothers in blue!” they posted, joking that the officer had been pursuing a person throwing donuts. “Not only did we safely rescue him from his precarious position atop a frigid rooftop but he was able to live out a life long dream of being a firefighter.”

Candice Slagel-Osborne, administrative assistant for the fire district, said as soon as she got the call from dispatch, she knew the rest of the UCFD staff would get a laugh. The district probably didn’t need to bring out as many rigs or personnel as they did, but Lt. Jeff Armstrong said they couldn’t resist the opportunity.

“They’ve been poking fun at us on Facebook, so we thought we’d return the favor,” he said.

Police Chief Jason Edmiston said Cpl. Riley Studebaker and Sgt. Bill Osborne responded about 8:30 a.m. to the auto parts store for a call of a trespasser on the roof. Studebaker quickly climbed a ladder on site to check out the roof and found some personal belongings but no people.

The ladder he had used to get up was pretty “wobbly,” Edmiston said, and the department has already had too many injuries this year. So Osborne told Studebaker to stay on the roof until the fire district could provide a safer way down — which led to the Facebook post.

“They got us,” Edmiston said.

The police department started the friendly little Facebook rivalry, the chief admitted, when they shared a post asking people to support UCFD’s participation in the March 10 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society stair climb fundraiser but added, “Not only does it raise money for a great cause, it will give our firefighters a chance to exchange truck washing tips, recipes, and video game cheat codes with hose draggers from all over.” They followed up with the jab about cat rescues the next day, and the fire department responded with a meme about police officers’ real dream of being a firefighter.

The two departments share a building at 330 S. First St., which can lead to some friendly teasing, Edmiston said, but in all seriousness, both departments get along well and always have each others’ back. He said the teamwork during Wednesday’s fire alarm at Hermiston High School, when UCFD showed up to ascertain there was no fire and HPD showed up to make sure there wasn’t a threat, shows that.

“Everyone is in sync,” he said.

Reporter

Reporter covering city government and economic development in Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo.

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