Six decades of saving lives

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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River Hebert Fire department to celebrate 60th anniversary

After 60 years of serving its community, the River Hebert Volunteer Fire Department has come a long way. Bud Johnston knows because he was there when it started back in 1947.

It was very, very primitive back then, said Johnston, who served 37 years with the department, 25 of them as chief.

Six decades of saving lives

After 60 years of serving its community, the River Hebert Volunteer Fire Department has come a long way. Bud Johnston knows because he was there when it started back in 1947.

It was very, very primitive back then, said Johnston, who served 37 years with the department, 25 of them as chief. We never had much, and used a lot of equipment that had been surplus from the war. Money was very tight at the time and we had to work for everything we had.

Following the war there was a series of fires in the community, including a couple large ones in the business district, demonstrating the need for a local fire department, according to Johnston.

We had various large fires that we couldnt handle at all, like the theatre fire and another one on Lower Station Street that caused a lot of worry, he said. We had to rely on Joggins, and that was quite a run at the time.

So the River Hebert department was formed with about 20 members, many who had worked in the local mines and elsewhere in the area. The first trucks were a 1944 Ford army truck from the base in Debert, and a 1946 Chev built over as a secondary truck by first chief Jim Barkhouse.

Over the years Johnston noticed plenty of changes and improvements in the fire service, including better equipment, better training and younger recruits coming along. One of those young recruits who joined up 35 years ago was current chief George Rector.

At one time we worried if we would have enough money to buy gas at the end of the month, said Rector. Over the years weve put a lot of hours into trying to build this place up.

The department now carries a membership of 25, including four juniors, and has several fire trucks and other valuable emergency equipment.

The department will celebrate its 60th anniversary with its annual banquet at the curling club on Saturday, May 12, and with an open house and barbecue at the hall on May 27.



awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: River Hebert Volunteer Fire Department, Lower Station, Ford army

Geographic location: Joggins, River Hebert, Debert

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