Four decades of service with Glen Walter’s FD
BY STEVEN WARBURTON
News Staff The personalized licence plate on Gabe McEvoy’s GMC truck, currently resting in the driveway of his Paragon Road home in South Glengarry, reads G W F D.
Anyone who’s known Mr. McEvoy for even the briefest amount of time knows what those letters stand for – Glen Walter Fire Department. Mr. McEvoy, who just turned 61, gave almost 41 years to the local fire station. He says he retired only after he accomplished one of his biggest goals, which was to “get a new fire station for my boys.”
Mr. McEvoy, who was Glen Walter’s Fire Chief for two years and Deputy-Chief for 17, says he’d been pushing South Glengarry for a new fire station since the early part of the 21st Century. He remembers working out of the old fire hall when he first joined the department in September of 1975.
Mr. McEvoy says a lot has changed since his early days with the department. At one time, when an emergency call came in, the fire chiefs had to contact all their firefighters at home to let them know the address of the incident. Then sometime in the 1990s, firefighters began carrying pagers. That itself was an expensive endeavour but Mr. McEvoy worked with his team to help bring the technology into Glen Walter. He also helped expand the old fire hall on County Road 2 a number of times -once to accommodate a tanker and another time to house rescue vehicles. Eventually, he says the fire department simply outgrew the building and that’s when it became increasingly more obvious that Glen Walter, along with its burgeoning population, needed the new hall that’s currently located just south of the Glen Walter Park.
In addition to pushing for the new hall, Mr. McEvoy also helped upgrade the South Glengarry Fire Department’s training centre on Airport Road, raised funds to purchase vital equipment like the Jaws of Life, and – during his tenure as Deputy-Chief – arranged for the installation of three dry hydrants along County Road 2 – one at the Olco station, one at Richmond Road and another at Pilon’s Point.
He says these hydrants allow for the fire department to take water from the St. Lawrence River no matter what the season. Gone are the days when, during the Winter, firefighters had to pull portable drillers onto the river’s frozen surface in order to pump water.
When asked why he joined the fire department in the first place, Mr. McEvoy says it was partly because of his father, Howard, who stayed with the department for 35 years.
Mr. McEvoy’s wife, Louise, always supported her husband’s passion for the fire department. She has a unique translation of the G W F D plate: “Gabe was finally done.”
A FIREFIGHTER FOREVER: Gabe McEvoy might have just retired after almost 41 years with the Glen Walter Fire Station, but his Paragon Road home is still filled with signs from his firefighting past.