A pot luck dinner and awards banquet was held Saturday, Jan. 26, to enjoy some good food, camaraderie, and to award several of the department members for their many years of service.
Members were awarded with Certificates of Appreciation, Years of Service Pins and Fire Department toques to keep their heads warm while out on incidents during the cold snowy nights.
Marty Stewart and Richard Ten Brink were presented with their Certificates of Appreciation and their five-year service pins.
Kevin Sass and Wendy Cherry who were unable to attend will be presented their certificates and five year pins at a later date.
Gordon Leech and Warren Crick were presented with their certificates and their 10 year service pins, while Deputy Chief Ken Harbord was presented with his certificate and 15 year service pin.
Chris Wilson, Fire Services and Projects Manager from the FVRD was on hand to present Fire Chief Marty McKinney with his 20 Year Certificate of Appreciation and service pin.
An interactive session followed where many ideas were exchanged dealing with the challenges that must be overcome by volunteer services in these current times, what members felt could be done to assist in overcoming these challenges and what they felt the future holds for the department.
Volunteer Fire Departments all over North America are experiencing reductions in the number of residents coming out to join and train for the volunteer department in their area.
These reductions in number have placed a lot of stress on departments to be able to supply the emergency services that many people expect to arrive at their door when they dial those three numbers. 9-1-1.
It takes a lot to operate a Fire Service, it is not just racing to a structure and pouring water on the red stuff but maintaining the Fire Hall itself, all the equipment in the hall and on the trucks, paper work, training of the members, community functions, charity functions and the list goes on.
Many community members don’t feel they can volunteer for the local fire department as they feel they are not able to or do not wish to physically fight fires but maybe you can help in some other way.
Assist in cleaning and maintaining equipment, cleaning around the fire hall, assisting with moving equipment around at a fire incident, traffic control, rehab, rolling up hoses, cleaning and storing equipment away after an incident.
Are you a retired teacher?
Maybe you can be an instructor of some non-firefighting related sessions.
Helping out in these non firefighting chores can relieve the some of the pressures placed on the volunteer firefighters.
Marty McKinney is Fire Chief of the Hemlock Fire Department, and contributes regularly to the Observer.