Bishop family donates Jaws of Life
Lifesaving equipment given to fire brigade in honour of the late Frank Bishop Jr.
The Bay de Grave regional fire brigade in South River has acquired some critical and costly lifesaving equipment, but it wasn’t the result of fundraising or government largesse.
The Bishop family of Cupids, which has a long attachment to the volunteer firefighting fraternity in the area, donated the hydraulic vehicle extrication tools — better known as the Jaws of Life — in honour of Frank Bishop Jr., who died tragically in a plane crash in Labrador in May 2010.
Frank Bishop, 45, was a wellknown volunteer, having served for many years on the now-defunct Cupids fire brigade, and was a member of the Cupids town council at the time of his death. He was also instrumental in the creation of the new Bay de Grave department, which was activated just weeks before his death.
The family, including Frank Bishop’s widow, Bernice, joined with members of the brigade on July 11 to officially hand over the specialized equipment, which includes tools such as cutters, spreaders and a ram. The tools are used by fire departments around the world for extricating crash victims from vehicles, and can easily rip a vehicle to pieces if the need arises.
“ We’re doing this in honour of Frank, because that’s the type of person he was,” said Aubrey Bishop, Frank’s brother and deputy chief of the Bay de Grave fire department.
“He gave his heart and soul to the fire department, so what better way to honour his legacy,” added another brother, Paul Bishop, a captain with the brigade.
The used hydraulic tools were purchased through an online retailer in the United States and cost the family more than $12,000, said Aubrey.
Most of the money was donated following Frank Bishop’s death. The family decided it would donate all proceeds to the fire department.
Aubrey and Paul felt the best way to make use of the money was to purchase the Jaws of Life.
They said the Fire Comissioner’s Office would not support any government funding for the purchase, since it felt that having the tools in Bay Roberts was sufficient for the area.
That view was not shared by the Bay de Grave firefighters, including Chief Jeremy Hall.
“This has enhanced our protection services a great deal,” said Hall. He added that most of the two dozen members of the brigade have completed the two-day vehice extrication course, and are now ready to use the equipment to its fullest potential whenever called upon.
It’s just the latest tangible evidence of Frank Bishop’s legacy with the fire department. His daughter, Cassandra Bishop, became the first female to join the brigade last year, and his son, Gregory, is also a member.
In fact, more than one-third of the brigade has a connection to the Bishop family, with Frank Bishop Sr., who served as a volunteer in Cupids for more than 30 years, an honourary firefighter with Bay de Grave.
A regional asset
The Bay de Grave department serves five communities, including Cupids, Makinsons, South River, Clarke’s Beach and North River. Since it was formed just over a year ago, its membership has grown from 15 to 25 members, with a top official in the provincial Fire Commissioner’s Office recently describing the department as among the best-trained in the province.
But it’s emergence has stirred a debate over jurisdiction with its neighbouring brigade in Bay Roberts, specifically involving emergencies on Veterans Memoria l Highway, t h e main ar ter y through Conception Bay North, and a small section of the Trans-Canada Highway. There has been some confusion during recent emergency calls.
Officials with the Town of Bay Roberts and the Bay de Grave regional municipal services corporation, which oversees the regional service in South River, have had discussions on the issue, and those talks are ongoing, said Hall.
In the meantime, he said, Bay de Grave has mapped out what it believes to be its jurisdiction:
• Veterans Highway — the North River overpass, south to the TransCanada Highway;
• Trans-Canada Highway — west to Hodgewater Line, and east to Brigus Junction.
Hall said Bay de Grave also has a mutual aid agreement with the fire brigade in Brigus for areas such as Roaches Line, and communities to the south such as Georgestown and Marysvale.
As for the acquisition of the Jaws of Life, Hall said it vastly improves emergency response capabilities in Conception and Trinity bays. He said departments in Holyrood, Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace, Whitbourne and Heart’s Delight-Islington also have the tools.
Frank Bishop Jr. died in a plane crash in Labrador in May 2010. The Bishop family of Cupids donated hydraulic vehicle extrication tools to the Bay de Grave regional volunteer fire department last week. The donation was in honour of the late Frank Bishop Jr., who died in a plane crash last year. Members of the Bishop family and volunteers with the fire department took part in the ceremony.