Sea­side Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment cel­e­brates 30 years of ser­vice

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY DENISE PIKE

Mem­bers of Sea­side Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment cel­e­brated 30 years of serv­ing the pub­lic last month dur­ing their an­nual an­niver­sary din­ner and dance. The event, held March 28, high­lighted the com­mit­ment of past and cur­rent fire­fight­ers.

“This is a very worth­while or­ga­ni­za­tion and we have much to be proud of,” said Fire Chief Perry Blake. “There’s a tremendous amount of com­mu­nity sup­port here in this area for the fire depart­ment and it is greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. There’s no way we could keep go­ing without it.”

A num­ber of awards and pins, ac­knowl­edg­ing the com­mit­ment of the fire­fight­ers, were handed out dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion. Thirty Year cer­tifi­cates went to Melvin Ne­whook, Rex Hol­lett, Ron Smith, Alonzo Reid and Sea­side’s first fire chief Don Bishop. Fire­fighter Bax­ter Smith re­ceived a Twenty-Five Year cer­tifi­cate while Twenty Year cer­tifi­cates went to Ed Brazil, Greg Brazil and Rick Smith. As­sis­tant Fire Chief Ai­den Brown re­ceived a Fif­teen Year cer­tifi­cate while Jim Smith was voted Fire­man of the Year.

This award, pre­sented by Fire Chief Blake and As­sis­tant Chief Brown, is given an­nu­ally to the fire­fighter who demon­strates out­stand­ing ded­i­ca­tion to the depart­ment.

“Jim is very re­li­able and de­serv­ing of this award,” said Blake.“He’s al­ways there to help out at pa­rades and other com­mu­nity events. He also at­tends all our meet­ings and is very loyal to the depart­ment.”

The chief says the long­stand­ing com­mit­ment of all fire­fight­ers to serve the pub­lic has kept the depart­ment thriv­ing for the past 30 years.

“Sea­side Fire Depart­ment was first es­tab­lished in 1979 and the first fire truck was a pickup,” Blake re­called. “To­day we have a pickup truck, van and a 1,500 gal­lon pumper, which has been paid off for a num­ber of years.”

While many or­ga­ni­za­tions are strug­gling to find vol­un­teers, Sea­side has 33 ac­tive mem­bers, three of whom joined in the past six weeks.

“We’re re­ally fo­cus­ing on get­ting more young peo­ple in­volved,” said Blake.“Our young peo­ple are the key to the fu­ture of this or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Other mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive in­clude Sec­re­tary Steve Blake, Cap­tains Rick Smith and Jim Smith and Trea­sur­ers Melvin Ne­whook and Don Bishop.

The idea of form­ing a vol­un­teer fire depart­ment to pro­vide top-notch fire pro­tec­tion ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ties of Blake­town, Old Shop, South Dildo, Dildo and New Har­bour, orig­i­nated with mem­bers of the Old Shop Lo­cal Ser­vice District in 1979.

The group met with for­mer Lib­eral MHA Wil­son Cal­lan, Belle­vue, and an of­fi­cial group, with chair­man An­drew Smith, was formed. One of their first projects in­cluded pur­chas­ing a fire truck. They ap­plied for gov­ern­ment fund­ing and when it was ap­proved the Old Shop Lo­cal Ser­vice District be­gan as­sist­ing them with the cost.

Around the same time the group also be­gan putting plans in place for a fa­cil­ity to house the ve­hi­cle. In 1981 they ob­tained fed­eral fund­ing and a fire­house was con­structed. A few years later the fire truck ar­rived com­plete with fire pumps and a 3,500 foot hose. The ve­hi­cle was fit­ted out with a 10-horse­power pump, do­nated by the Com­mu­nity Five Lion’s Club.

In 1983 the vol­un­teer fire group was of­fi­cially named the Sea­side Fire Depart­ment.

First fire

The first fire they re­sponded to was a ma­jor house fire in Blake­town, which took place dur­ing a bliz­zard.

In the years since, Sea­side has bat­tled a num­ber of fires in­clud­ing nu­mer­ous chim­ney, grass and car fires. They have also been called on to ex­tin­guish flames from ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing a cou­ple of busi­nesses, a boathouse, for­est and even an over­cooked turkey.

Around the late 1980s Sea­side Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment re­ceived its first of­fi­cial crest, cre­ated by fire­man Andy Reid. In 1992 an ex­ten­sion was added to the fire hall and a 1987 cube van, large enough to trans­port both equip­ment and fire­men to a scene, was pur­chased. A few years ago a sec­ond ex­ten­sion was added. The ren­o­va­tion was funded through a grant pro­vided by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and pub­lic do­na­tions.

In April 1999 the Sea­side Fire Depart­ment, looking to in­crease its fire fight­ing abil­ity, launched an­other cam­paign to raise money for a 1,500-gal­lon tanker truck. Once again the Lo­cal Ser­vice District Com­mit­tee of Old Shop sup­ported their ef­forts by ap­ply­ing to the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs for the nec­es­sary fund­ing. Spon­sor­ing let­ters from the Lo­cal Ser­vice Dis­tricts of Blake­town, South Dildo, Dildo and New Har­bour fol­lowed.

Nu­mer­ous fundrais­ers were held, busi­nesses chipped in and the tanker truck was pur­chased and paid off a year ear­lier than an­tic­i­pated.

The depart­ment is now looking at pur­chas­ing a new van.

“We wouldn’t be able to buy any new equip­ment or op­er­ate without the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance of the pub­lic, or­ga­ni­za­tions or busi­nesses,” said Blake.

A door-to-door col­lec­tion, in the com­mu­ni­ties of Blake­town, South Dildo, Dildo and New Har­bour takes place each year. The money is used to main­tain the fire hall.

“We’re re­ally grate­ful for all the sup­port we have re­ceived over the past 30 years,” said Blake. “ It’s very true, when every­one works to­gether, much can be ac­com­plished.”

Mem­bers of Sea­side Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment meet Tues­day nights at 8 p.m. at the fire hall in South Dildo.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Christina Blake

UN­SUNG HE­ROES - Mem­bers of Sea­side Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment cel­e­brated 30 years of serv­ing the pub­lic dur­ing their an­nual an­niver­sary din­ner and dance, March 28.

OUT­STAND­ING FIRE­MEN - From left: As­sis­tant Fire Chief Ai­den Brown and Fire Chief Perry Blake present fire­fighter Jim Smith with the Fire­man of the Year award dur­ing Sea­side Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment’s an­niver­sary din­ner and dance last month.

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