How towns let firefighters know they care
The Compass polled each town to find out how
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.
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.
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.
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.
Firefighters around the Trinity Conception region fearlessly throw themselves into dire situations to help protect the residents of their communities.
Bay de Verde Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Ambrose Broaders poses in front of the brigade’s newest addition to its fleet.