Fifty years of fire­fight­ing

Dave King, Den­zil Nor­man have 90 years of ser­vice com­bined

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The Bri­gus Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment has plenty of long-serv­ing mem­bers, and lead­ing the way is Dave King, left, an as­tound­ing 50year vet­eran of the brigade.

Dave King has reached a rare mile­stone within the world of fire­fight­ing.

The 68-year-old Bri­gus res­i­dent was re­cently rec­og­nized for 50 years of ser­vice with the lo­cal fire de­part­ment.

He wasn’t alone when it came to re­ceiv­ing note­wor­thy ku­dos at the fire­man’s ball. His col­league, Den­zil Nor­man, was hon­oured for reach­ing the 40year mark.

They re­main heav­ily in­volved in the de­part­ment to this day. King is the cur­rent trea­surer, and both help out with fundrais­ers. Nor­man said if the de­part­ment gets a call, he’s still ready to hook up a hose.

“I joined in ‘77,” said Nor­man, 66. “I never wore a breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus, but I used to be on the hose all the time. If there’s a fire tonight, I’ll be there with the hose.”

“I love the fire de­part­ment,” King added. “I love com­ing down, and if I can help out, I’ll help out. The morale is there.”

A lot has changed since King came on board with the fire de­part­ment in 1967, a mere two years af­ter it was formed (his fa­ther Thomas was a found­ing mem­ber). Back then, Bri­gus used a sin­gle truck. King wore a long rain­coat when the brigade was called to a scene, and

he had to per­son­ally pur­chase his boots.

Over time, the brigade’s for­tunes im­proved, with new equip­ment and more money com­ing into the fire hall through fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Over the years, we’ve been a pretty vi­able fire de­part­ment,” said King, who is also a for­mer fire chief. “No big cost to the town — it keeps the taxes and ev­ery­thing down for the peo­ple of the town. Right now, I think we’ve got 27 mem­bers, so it’s good. A lot of younger mem­bers

“I love the fire de­part­ment.” — Dave King

on now, which is good.”

King and Nor­man can pass on their knowl­edge to younger fire­fight­ers as needed. They’ve come across plenty of unique sit­u­a­tions, some of which carry with them sad mem­o­ries.

“We’ve had three re­ally bad fires with life lost in it,” said King, who was the first fire­fighter on the scene for one of those in­ci­dents.

King’s fam­ily has been heav­ily in­volved with the de­part­ment over the years. Two of his brother, Fred­er­ick and Bill,

have served with the brigade, with Bill still an ac­tive fire­fighter. His wife Marie and sis­ter Betty Carter were found­ing mem­bers of the Ladies Aux­il­iary and are ac­tive to this day. And brother-in-law Ge­orge Fry, still an ac­tive fire­fighter, is clos­ing in on 50 years of ser­vice him­self.

“There’s some of them reach­ing 65 — why not let them stay on as long as they want,” Chief Rod­ney Mercer told the Com­pass. “They were the found­ing mem­bers. I’d say they’re wel­come

to any­thing. If they want to go to a fire, they can go to a fire. If they want to stay home, they can stay home, be­cause they’ve done their deeds.”

Mercer paid par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to King’s vi­tal role within the de­part­ment 50 years in.

“He looks af­ter the money, and I mean, you’ve got to have some­one with a good knowl­edge on their head,” he said with re­spect to the fire de­part­ment’s trea­surer.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Dave King, left, and fel­low Bri­gus fire­fighter Den­zil Nor­man have spent a lot of hours at the lo­cal fire hall. They have an as­tound­ing 90 years of ser­vice be­tween the two of them.

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