Carbonear fire department holds annual dinner and dance for 200
The sound of a small, brass fire bell opens the Carbonear firefighter's ball Oct. 12 at the Knights of Columbus on Adelaide Street.
© Photo by Melissa Jenkins
The Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department held its annual firefighters ball Oct. 12. Members of the department, in no particular order, are, (executive) — Ed Kavanagh, Brent Sweeney, Cory Mahaney, Keith Keough, Adam Earle, Steve Barrett, Edward Wrice and Ken Burke; (active members) — Brian Green, Fred Baldwin, Chris Dowden, Don Earl, Richard Rossiter, Dennis Ash Jr., Frank Butt, Jeff Squibb, Claude Garland, Tom Crawford, Scott Mullins, Michael King, Kerry Noel, Frank Pike Jr., Chris Rodgers, Glenn Trickett, Neil Murphy, Matt Wareham, Jason Hogan, Nick Rossiter, Derek Ash, John Crawford, Greg King, Alvin Wareham, Kenneth Thomas, Darren Hedd, Ron Garland, Jason Fahey and Trevor Snow; (associate members) - Steve Burden, Brad Simms, Geoff Moore, Gord Ash, Jerome Murphy, Scott Burr and Colin Clarke; (honourary members) - Art Thomas, Heber McGurk, Tom Quinn, Morley Colbourne, Lewis Squibb, Randy Butt, Fred Earle Jr., Scott Thomas, George Power, Charlie Frampton, Paul Finn, Melvin Garland, Cecil Oates, Milton Peach, Ned Mercer, George W. Earle, Jerry Wrice, Willis Spurrell, Ray Noel, Wallace Maidment, Lewis Sheppard, Roy Saunders, Ambrose Janes, Frank Pike Sr., Sam Slade, John Comerford, Tom Yetman, Clay Oates, Bevin Butt, Keith Thomas, Herman Walters, Roy Moores, Paul McGurk, Jim Walsh, Rudy Garland, Leslie Pennedy, Cecil Reid Jr., John LeGrow, George W Janes, Wade Spurrell, Byron Power, Dennis Marshall and Lester Simms.
The bell has been a tradition within the fire department since it began 172 years ago. It would ring to inform the town the firefighters were answering a call.
This year the bell was rung to notify some 200 guests that the 42nd annual ball was commencing.
Honorary firefighter Milton Peach opened the event with a discussion of the bell and its origins.
Firefighter Steve Barrett took the bell's cord and tapped it lightly - one, two, three. After a moment he repeated the motion - one, two, three. And then again for a third and final time - one, two, three.
The room was silent while all listened carefully to one of the most prominent pieces of history in firefighting.
Several firefighters from surrounding communities attended the event. As did five town councillors.
In fact, most firefighters in attendance had a large group of family and friends by their side.
"I've spoken to a number of firefighter dinners across the province," guest speaker and mayor of Mount Pearl Randy Simms told the audience. "But I have to tell you, this is one of the largest I've seen. You guys really show up to support your fire department."
The event fell on the last day of fire prevention week, a week dedicated to educating the public on fire safety.
"Hundreds of children and their families came out for fire prevention week to take a ride on the fire trucks," Carbonear Mayor Sam Slade said. "And the department organizes the annual Santa Claus parade where hundreds of loot bags are prepared for children."
Slade is a proud honourary firefighter, and spoke of how many lives each member touches just by volunteering their time.
"Council's resourses are not unlimited," he continued. "This council and councils in the past have always tried to provide them with the necessary facilities and equipment to provide fire protection."
Speaker grabs attention
One of the evening's events was a powerful and informative address by guest speaker Randy Simms.
"The commitment of provincial money to fire departments has dropped in recent years and the level of community support available through fundraising or municipal grants is also strained," Simms explained. "The entire business model for volunteer firefighting services is under pressure."
Many nodded as Simms described how volunteer firefighters in rural areas put their lives at risk, while others in large cities get paid and earn pensions to support them and their families. He also noted the amount of training is equivalent to those in paid positions.
"People who are prepared to risk their lives for others have to be at the top of their game, and when you do it for nothing more than a tax credit and a thank you on occasion, keeping people involved really becomes a challenge."
Last year the provincial government committed to implementing a provincewide 9-1-1 emergency phone service in 2014.
With only three areas of the province currently on a 9-1-1 system - Northeast Avalon, Corner Brook and Labrador West - the change is going to impact Conception Bay North and Trinity Bay, the regions that work together on fire, ambulance and police calls.
The universal service will also cost home and cellphone owners a fee - Simms believes is less than a dollar - per month.
This year, eight firefighters received awards for their years of dedication to the department.
Those with the longest terms are Fire Chief Ed Kavanagh and Coun. Frank Butt, both with 25 years. The others are Glenn Trickett (20 years), honorary member Ned Mercer (15 years), honorary member Keith Thomas (15 years), Alvin Wareham (15 years), Neil Murphy (10 years) and Scott Mullins (10 years).
Glenn Trickett was also awarded the provincial and federal awards for 20 years of service.
Kristian Butt, daughter of Frank and Karen Butt, was the recipient of the Fred Chubbs memorial scholarship, an award given to a Grade 12 student with the highest academic average. Her father presented the award.
The second award was the LFC Clifford Pike scholarship, given to the student with the highest average in Grade 12 literature. The recipient was Brandon Mullins, son of Scott and Kelly Mullins. Scott is a firefighter.
Although not an award recipient, Tom Quinn was acknowledged for his dedication to the force in the 1960s and 70s.
A former fire chief, Quinn received significant burns on his face when attending training in St. John's in 1972.
"It was a flash fire," Quinn said. "I was lucky, but I couldn't wash my face for a week."
Saying thank you
Once the ceremony and dinner were over, voices echoed through the hall, most saying thank you and proclaiming their support.
"Volunteerism is all about caring for the community," Simms said. "And I know of no other group who reflects that ideal more succinctly than our volunteer firefighters."
Slade was proud to say the department is a great attribute to the town.
"An organization is only as good as its people, which is so true of our Carbonear volunteer firefighters."
To conclude, the group celebrated a year without fatalities and firefighter injuries.