Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dedication of Volunteers Rewarded at Town's Firefighter Awards

It was fitting that a call to respond to a fire came in the middle of an evening meant to honour the 132 active volunteer firefighters which make up the Fort Erie Fire Department.

As it turned out, the reported fire at a home on Ott Road was minor and was out by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. It was, however, a perfect demonstration of what the Fort Erie Fire Department is all about.

As a department driven by volunteers, firefighters have missed their fair share of family gatherings, anniversaries and dinners.

“It’s a good department because of the guys,” Deputy Chief Keith German said of the town’s firefighters.

“The guys driving the fire truck are doing all the work.”

It’s that dedication to the job that impresses German and the whole motivation behind the annual recognition night, held April 24 at the Leisureplex Banquet Hall. Awards were handed out to volunteers to recognize years of service ranging from five years right through 42 years.

German was humbled when he was honoured with a trio of service awards, provincial recognition for 25 and 30 years of service and federal honours for 30 years.

The real honours should go to the volunteers, German said. “For them to get to 20 to 30 years of service is phenomenal,” he said.

Time was also set aside at the awards night to remember Chester Wells, former Station 2 chief who passed away in 2003 after a battle with cancer, which came about through hazards Wells faced on duty.
Mayor Doug Martin saluted the volunteers with a touch of humour.

“Four years ago, we were a new council, with an old chief, old and getting older,” Martin said with a nod and a wink to former chief Jim Douglas, who retired in 2009 after 33 years with the department. “Now, we’re an old council with a new chief.”

In a more serious vein, the mayor said the Town will work hard to ensure that its volunteer firefighters have “first class facilities.”

He also praised current chief Larry Coplen and all the volunteers.

“We say when you’re here, you’re in good hands,” Martin said. “That’s exactly what we are in in Fort Erie.”

Coplen, meanwhile, said it was the quality of people that make the department what it is.

“The material things are not all that’s important,” Coplen said. “It’s in the plaques on the trucks honouring 50 years of service. It’s in the photos of retired and deceased fire fighters on the walls at the fire stations.

It often chronicles generations of dedication.”

To see a full list of award recipiants, click here.

Need awards for your Fire Department? Visit us a We have a wide selection of awards in many different price ranges.

Becky Harmata
The Fire Emporium
Toll Free: 866-832-1468
Fax: 250-769-3588

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