How towns let fire­fight­ers know they care

The Com­pass polled each town to find out how

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Fire­fight­ers. They rou­tinely put them­selves into sit­u­a­tions that the nor­mal per­son would rather not.

Whether it is fear­lessly charg­ing into a burn­ing struc­ture fire or tend­ing to a car ac­ci­dent, they con­tin­u­ously put them­selves in dif­fi­cult sce­nar­ios.

What makes it re­mark­able is the fact that fire­fight­ers in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion, as it is across of New­found­land and Labrador out­side of the larger cen­tres, is a vol­un­tary choice made by in­di­vid­u­als in the com­mu­nity.

It does not mat­ter where you are in the bay, th­ese in­di­vid­u­als come from all walks of life. You can find them in your gro­cery store, pump­ing fuel at a gas sta­tion or tak­ing their house­hold pet for a stroll down one of the many streets in town.

Th­ese peo­ple could be do­ing any­thing when the call comes. They could be at work, at the park or at the sta­dium, and when that pager dings, all of it is dropped in favour of help­ing what could be a com­plete stranger.

There is no mone­tary value placed on the work that they do, but that does not mean their work goes un­no­ticed by mem­bers of their com­mu­ni­ties.

Car­bon­ear Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment Fire Chief Ed Ka­vanagh said on “count­less” oc­ca­sions his depart­ment has re­ceived thank you let­ters af­ter calls.

“We get a lot of sup­port,” he said. “It’s a lit­tle morale boost.”

How else do com­mu­ni­ties show sup­port to their fire­fight­ers?

As The Com­pass dis­cov­ered, ev­ery town is dif­fer­ent.

Some give their fire­fight­ers a turkey at Christ­mas­time, while oth­ers choose to give their cher­ished vol­un­teers a hon­o­rar­ium for the high amount of time it takes to be a fire­fighter.

The towns of Win­ter­ton, New Per­li­can and Old Per­li­can hold Christ­mas par­ties to show sup­port for all of their vol­un­teers.

Places like Har­bour Grace, Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton, Hant’s Har­bour and Whit­bourne pay their fire­fight­ers an hon­o­rar­ium for the work that they do.

Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton Mayor Den­zil Shep­pard said his town “sup­ports ( fire­fight­ers) any way” it can.

Mem­bers of the Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment re­ceive $120 a year, based on at­ten­dance at meet­ings, train­ing and emer­gency calls.

On top of that, the town helps out wher­ever it can with re­gards to fund­ing for new equip­ment.

“The fire depart­ment is never stumped for any­thing,” Shep­pard told The Com­pass.

The mayor said the town of­ten pays for any train­ing ex­er­cises that fire­fight­ers from his com­mu­nity un­der­take dur­ing the year.

“We’re very ap­pre­cia­tive for the work they do,” said Shep­pard.

Har­bour Grace pays $100 per fire­fighter, while Whit­bourne pays what could be as much as $252.50 — $4.85 per meet­ing/train­ing ex­er­cise at­tended — per year for ac­tive mem­bers.

Pay­ing the bills

Many of the towns in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion help out their fire de­part­ments with ex­penses.

The Town of Vic­to­ria has $59,071 bud­get­ted for the Vic­to­ria Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment.

The depart­ment sub­mits its bud­get ev­ery year to the town, which would in­clude money for pos­si­ble up­grades to equip­ment, whether, that is new bunker suits or the re­place­ment of self-con­tained breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tuses, it is in­cluded in the bud­get. The day-to-day run­ning of the depart­ment is also in­cluded in the bud­get.

The same can be said for other com­mu­ni­ties in the re­gion.

Th­ese day-to-day ex­pen­di­tures can in­clude heat and light at the fire sta­tion, as well as the cost of fuel, phones and new hoses.

While some would view this as just stan­dard op­er­at­ing costs for a depart­ment, it is still a sign of sup­port when fire chiefs can call up the var­i­ous may­ors and know that they are go­ing to be looked af­ter.

White­way Mayor Craig Whe­lan, who is also a mem­ber of the Trin­ity South Cen­tral Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment, which serves White­way and Cavendish, said his town “does ev­ery­thing in its power” to pro­vide for the depart­ment.

The town has in its bud­get $8,200 for the fire depart­ment. That does not in­clude a sim­i­lar amount com­ing from the lo­cal ser­vice dis­trict in Cavendish.

The rest of the money for the Trin­ity South Cen­tral depart­ment comes from a bingo that it uses to raise funds.

“We’re 100 per cent sup­port­ive,” said Whe­lan.

Re­mu­ner­a­tion

The Town of Bay Roberts, like all other com­mu­ni­ties, holds its fire depart­ment in high re­gard.

So high, in fact, that the town re­cently upped its re­mu­ner­a­tion for the depart­ment by 50 per cent in its 2013 mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get.

In 2012, the re­mu­ner­a­tion laid out for fire­fight­ers was $20,000. In 2013, it is $30,000.

“We looked at is as ap­pre­ci­a­tion,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood. “We also looked at what they deal with as a group of vol­un­teers.”

The town’s bud­get for the fire depart­ment is up al­most $12,000, to $84,045.

“It was a sign that it was the right thing to do,” said Wood.

The mayor said there is a lot of work that goes into be­ing a vol­un­teer fire­fighter, from meet­ings to keep­ing up on the lat­est train­ing tech­niques and equip­ment.

“We cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple that of­fer them­selves to the com­mu­nity like that,” said Wood, re­flect­ing the stance taken by all com­mu­ni­ties in the re­gion.

Com­pass file photo

Fire­fight­ers around the re­gion fear­lessly put them­selves into sit­u­a­tions like this as mem­bers of the Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade did in Fe­bru­ary when Sin­yard’s Phar­macy in Har­bour Grace was on fire in this Com­pass file photo.

Com­pass file photo

Trin­ity South Cen­tral Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment Fire Chief Ken Jack­son (right) at the an­nounce­ment of his bri­gade’s new pumper truck. Also shown is Min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Kevin O’Brien (left) and Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Charlene John­son.

Mem­bers of the Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade’s Cold Wa­ter Res­cue unit were called into ac­tion at Gun­ner’s Pond in Car­bon­ear last month to res­cue a trio of vic­tims who had be­come trapped on the ice.

Com­pass file photo

Fire­fight­ers around the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion fear­lessly throw them­selves into dire sit­u­a­tions to help pro­tect the res­i­dents of their com­mu­ni­ties.

Com­pass file photo

Bay de Verde Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment Fire Chief Am­brose Broad­ers poses in front of the bri­gade’s new­est ad­di­tion to its fleet.

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