What a year

Bay de Grave fire depart­ment cel­e­brates in­au­gu­ral year of ser­vice

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS

The new Bay de Grave re­gional vol­un­teer fire depart­ment has com­pleted what many have de­scribed as a “tremen­dous” first year. But those close to the brigade say its con­tin­ued suc­cess will hinge on whether new re­cruits step for­ward to help.

“ We wel­come new mem­bers with open arms,” Ju­nior Tay­lor stated April 9 dur­ing the brigade’s first fire­fighter’s ball, which was held in South River. More than 200 peo­ple packed the Knights of Colum­bus build­ing for the event.

Tay­lor is chair of the 10-mem­ber Bay de Grave re­gional mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices cor­po­ra­tion, which over­sees the brigade on be­half of five com­mu­ni­ties — North River, Clarke’s Beach, South River, Cupids and Makin­sons.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pro­vin­cial Fire Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice, Greg Lynch, also called upon will­ing vol­un­teers — men and women — to con­sider join­ing the brigade.

“ The friend­ships you make and the skills you ac­quire are in­valu­able,” he said. “And even though you don’t get paid for it, it’s a pro­fes­sional vo­ca­tion. So it’s re­ally some­thing worth­while.”

Bay de Grave was ac­ti­vated in March 2010 fol­low­ing sev­eral years of dis­cus­sions among the com­mu­ni­ties. The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment in­jected a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money to con­struct a new fire hall in South River and pur­chase a new pumper truck.

The fire brigade in Cupids was de­ac­ti­vated, with most of its mem­bers now form­ing the core of the Bay de Grave depart­ment.

With only 16 mem­bers, it’s gen­er­ally ac­knowl­edged that more per­son­nel are needed, which makes the ac­com­plish­ments of those in­volved even more sig­nif­i­cant.

“ You are a suc­cess story and we have been pro­mot­ing this as the way it can be done,” Lynch stated. He said there are many strug­gling de­part­ments across the prov­ince that could con­sider a re­gional ap­proach sim­i­lar to the one un­der­taken in Bay de Grave.

“It’s amaz­ing to see what a group like you can ac­com­plish,” Lynch added. “ The Bay de Grave fire­fight­ers are as well-trained as any­body.”

There was con­sid­er­able praise for the ef­forts of Chief Jeremy Hall, de­scribed by Har­bour Main MHA and Trans­porta­tion and Works Min­is­ter Tom Hed­der­son as “prob­a­bly the high­est trained vol­un­teer chief ” in the prov­ince.

The brigade handed out 36 train­ing cer­tifi­cates at the ball for ev­ery­thing from de­fen­sive fire­fight­ing and ve­hi­cle ex­tri­ca­tion to marine fire­fight­ing for land-based fire­fight­ers.

Hall said many mem­bers un­der­went up­wards of 50 hours of train­ing this past year.

“ This is a very ded­i­cated group,” he said. Hall thanked the “ Wild­fires” ladies’ group for their sup­port of the brigade.

Som­bre tone

There was a som­bre tone through­out the for­mal pro­ceed­ings as var­i­ous speak­ers paid tribute to Frank Bishop Jr., who died in a plane crash in Labrador on May 26, 2010.

Bishop was a mem­ber of the brigade, served on the re­gional ser­vices board, and was a coun­cil­lor with the Town of Cupids. He was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing ac­ti­vate the depart­ment, said Tay­lor.

“ We leaned on Frank quite a lot, and we’re very sad that he’s not with us tonight,” Tay­lor said.

But Bishop’s legacy on the fire depart­ment is very much alive. His daugh­ter, Cas­san­dra, joined the brigade late last year; his son, Gre­gory, his brothers, Aubrey and Paul, and his neph­ews, David and Andrew Bishop and Claude Gar­land, are mem­bers; Bishop’s widow, Ber­nice, was seen at a re­cent struc­ture fire, help­ing sup­port the fire­fight­ers; and Bishop’s fa­ther, Frank Sr., is an hon­orary mem­ber.

“ You’ve suf­fered quite a loss and we’re quite proud of how you’ve re­sponded,” said Lynch.

“Even though it’s your first year, there is a tremen­dous legacy that you are car­ry­ing on here,” Hed­der­son added.

The brigade re­sponded to 22 calls for as­sis­tance in its first year.

Fire Chief Jeremy Hall was saluted by his fel­low of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers dur­ing the first Bay de Grave fire­fight­ers’ ball in North River on April 9. Each mem­ber of the brigade lined up to shake Hall’s hand, in­clud­ing “Conky,” the brigade’s mas­cot.

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