When that department joined the South Davis Fire District nearly four years ago, Whetton was made a division chief in charge of training.
In all his years of fighting fires, Whetton said, he was only hurt slightly when he fell and injured his knees during a fire about seven years ago. The worst fire he ever fought, he said, was one of the first he ever helped put out - a refinery fire at the former Standard Oil Co. refinery in North Salt Lake.
Whetton said he spent 38 straight hours fighting that fire, which started when a huge gasoline storage tank caught on fire. "We had fire departments from Davis County, Bountiful, Salt Lake City and other areas helping us," he said.
Whetton said he hopes the South Davis Fire District can build a special training site someday, perhaps a two- or three-story concrete building where training fires can be set and where firemen can practice putting out fires and rescuing people.
"Perhaps our department and other departments can go in together on it. Training is the most important part of a fireman's life and for the dangerous work they do, they deserve the best training possible."
Hazardous-materials training is another area in which Whetton believes every fire department should concentrate. "More and more hazardous chemicals and materials are being transported through Davis County as well as throughout Utah - from radioactive materials to gasoline and explosive and caustic chemicals.
"Firemen need to be trained in recognizing various hazardous materials and in how to handle them in a fire, spill or other kind of accident."
Whetton is an expert in the transportation of materials since he has been a truck driver for 23 years and has driven nearly 2 million miles. A native of Ogden and a 1951 graduate of Ogden High School, he worked for Mountain Fuel Supply Co. eight years, sold insurance for five years and moved to south Davis County and started driving trucks in 1965.
Today, he drives double and triple semitrailer truck loads - sometimes a rig as long as 95 feet and weighing 105,000 pounds. "That's a lot of responsibility, especially in bad weather."
The biggest reason Whetton retired from the fire department, he says, is the long hours he must work as a trucker. He spends six days a week on the road, driving from Salt Lake City to Ontario, Ore., three times a week, a round-trip distance of nearly 800 miles.
Whether fighting fires or driving huge trucks, Whetton has had to learn how to deal with danger. His method? He says he tries always to look ahead, think ahead and plan ahead. "I try to look for danger before it happens. I look for potential problems and think about solutions and then, if there is a problem, I am ready.
"Whether you are a truck driver or a fireman, learn all you can about your job and take your training seriously," he said.