What started out as “just something to do” for entertainment on Vancouver Island a half-century ago for Fred Robinson has been now honoured by both the provincial and federal governments: the long-time Hope resident was recognized for having spent 50 years being a volunteer firefighter in multiple communities across the province.
A heavy equipment operator by trade, Robinson says he got his start as a volunteer firefighter in Sayward, which is a small village about an hour north of Campbell River. “Then in Harrison, and Agassiz until I moved up here to Hope 20 years ago,” said the 82-year-old.
In addition to being a volunteer firefighter, Robinson was also one of the founding members of the Kent Search and Rescue (SAR) team.
“It was 1975, and a group of us were in a restaurant when the RCMP came in and said they needed help finding a little girl in Seabird,” he recalled. After finding the little girl, Robinson says he and his friends got the Kent SAR up and going, and he was an active member for 19 years.
“We were also first responders and we had an ambulance in Agassiz for a while,” he added.
So after a lifetime spent volunteering to save others from danger, Robinson was given an award from the Province honouring his dedication at the golf and country club in the fall.
“But a federal plaque is on the way, it’s coming,” he said. “I didn’t even know I was getting that one.”
Although he’s retired from actually fighting fires, Robinson hasn’t given up volunteering for the fire halls.
“In Silver Creek, I still drive one of the trucks,” he said with a smile. “They don’t want me in the fires anymore, so I drive the tender (and the) water truck that hauls it. I look after that truck and drive it.”
And if Robinson has his way, he says he’ll keep sitting behind the wheel of that truck for as long as he can. “It’s still good entertainment,” he said, grinning.