Seaside Volunteer Fire Department celebrates 30 years of service
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.
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.
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.