Firefighters celebrate annual banquet

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL - Year to year, providing firefighting services to the community remains a constant concern for every firefighter but, as learned during the Springhill Fire Departments annual banquet, the face of firefighting services has remained in a constant state of change.

Firefighters celebrate annual banquet

SPRINGHILL - Year to year, providing firefighting services to the community remains a constant concern for every firefighter but, as learned during the Springhill Fire Departments annual banquet, the face of firefighting services has remained in a constant state of change.

In a special address to this years attendees, honourary fire fighter Doug Casey gave a brief history of his own experience both becoming a voluntary firefighter and the changes in practices that occurred over the past 30 years.

Hearing the fire alarm for Ward One one early morning in 1967, Casey thought little of becoming a volunteer firefighter as he made his way to work. Hearing the alarm again and then a third time he chose to not go directly to work in Amherst like he normally would, and check things out. A school was on fire, he recalled, and past fire chief Lloyd Rector called on Casey to help the three or four volunteers combating the flames.

It was, Casey said, the beginning of his service to the town.

Casey went on to become an integral part of the department, educating himself in the equipment of the day and the operation of new developing technologies, like oxygen tanks.

There was no such thing when I joined but then the town bought one, Casey said.

Eventually the town purchased more breathing apparatuses and the department evolved to implement their own refilling compressor just like Amherst had and then re-inventing the compressor to operate more efficiently.

The foresight to change, Casey said, paid off when, in the 1970s, in the years leading up to the great fire that destroyed much of Main Street, Casey and the Springhill Fire Department responded to 14 major fires in 10 days. Volunteers, equipment and the modified compressor operated around the clock.

The alarm went off at 6:00 that a restaurant was on fire and we had it taken care of by 9:15. Then at 10:00, there was a house fire and it stayed like that for 10 days, Casey said.

The demand on firefighters as volunteers and the need to change, guest speaker and past fire chief Stewart Fraser said in his address to the annual banquet attendees, is one that can often be overlooked by others but if change is needed it should be handled with caution.

While the economy is getting more and more depressed, money is tight and volunteers are scarce, Fraser said. Its a problem all over the province.

Consolidation of services, Fraser said, may relieve the problem of volunteer turnout and operating costs, but partnerships need to be done very cautiously. Changing the mechanics of how fire services are provided could change response times. Studying fire services as a system and analyzing the affect of change should be thoroughly studied before implementing change.

If its not broken, Fraser said, dont fix it.

During the banquet, Springhill Fire Chief Fred Arsenault made a special announcement that the department would spearhead a special monument in memory of the late Terry Porter, who passed away last year, but not before handing the responsibility of fire chief to Arsenault.

He was a friend. His door was always opened to any of us to give advice or just listen, Arsenault said. Terry spoke of wanting to see a monument over the department and with the help of Springhills firefighters, we will make that dream a reality.

Special awards presented that evening included Harold Nicholson for 55 years of service, Allen McKenzie for 15 years of service, Carl Black for 20 years of service, Dave Hunter for five years, Stan Hunter for 30 years of service and a special recognition to Patty Porter, wife of the late Terry Porter, recognizing his 25 years of service as a volunteer with the Springhill Fire Department.



Organizations: Springhill Fire Departments

Geographic location: Amherst, Springhills

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