Trinity Bay fire department holding its own

Melissa Jenkins
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Green’s Harbour-Hopeall brigade celebrates unity and involvement at annual social

While many other fire departments in the region have been losing members, a brigade in Trinity Bay has not.

Chief Aaron Hillier of the Green’s Harbour-Hopeall Volunteer Fire Department said they have one new member this year, Anthony Cumby. The remaining 15 were on the roster last year. No one has resigned.

The gain was small, but with bigger, incorporated municipalities like Carbonear losing members, the department is pleased with its growth.

“We haven’t lost anyone,” executive member Mark Wareham told The Compass during dinner at the department’s annual social event April 26.

Wareham’s wife Felicia, brother Justin and sister-in-law Krista are also in the department.

Although Hillier considers steady participation a positive thing, what he would like to see are more people joining, especially younger residents.

“We are like a big family,” he explained. “We’d like to see some new members and hope to get people interested.

“We have a great working relationship with (neighbouring departments) Trinity South Central and Seaside. But we'd like to (hear from those people) who want to be a part of our department.”

Besides the relationships that have formed between members and departments, there is another benefit to joining the group. The department has recently acquired a new insurance policy for its members.

“We have new life, disability and accident insurance,” Hillier said.

Successful event

The event didn’t just celebrate the closeness of the department’s members. It showed how the group was the pride of the community.

Some 100 people turned out at the Green’s Harbour community centre to celebrate the department, and take part in the dinner and dance. Most of those in attendance were locals, as well as former firefighters showing continued support for the group.

There were eight chairs per table, but people mingled around the room before picking a seat. They told stories of the times the department helped residents with chimney fires and car accidents, but also of the dedication each member had for the community.

Chatter could be heard across the hall while waiting for the meal to be served. Attendees embraced, shook hands and laughed together.

When everybody took a seat, a meal of roast beef, turnip, potatoes and carrots was served. It has been tradition for several years for Hillier to help out with the meal. This year, like last, he gave a hand peeling potatoes the night before.  

One member's recognition

There were two awards given out this year: the 30-year service award (two recipients) and the firefighter of the year award.

Last year’s winner of the firefighter of the year award introduced the newest recipient with humour.

Shane Green told the audience he would have won for the second year in a row, but the publicity and autographs have been too much. Keith March, the actual winner, smiled as he walked on stage to accept the honour. He also received the 30-year award. Stan Piercey was the other member to receive it, but was unable to attend.

March almost didn’t make it either. The long-term member had been fighting the chickenpox virus, but he was well enough to attend.

Green and Hillier both joked about the lesions that were still visible on his head. But he laughed it off, and accepted his awards with pride.

Hiller explained the 30-year service medals from the provincial and federal governments had not arrived yet, but he had an alternative. March stood back on to the crowd, while Hillier pinned a “medal” on him.

With a laugh, March turned around to reveal an orange circular piece of paper pinned to his uniform that read, “30 years.”

Successful year

Over the past year, the members responded to five chimney fires and two car accidents.

Hillier thanked everyone in the communities for being fire safe, and keeping the number of incidents down.

The group has also purchased two new breathing apparatuses to replace ones that were taken out of commission.

Hillier also thanked Donna Sheppard, a woman from the area, for helping the department with communications.

The new pager system implemented early last year could not reach every member because of reception issues from one side of town to the next. Sheppard allowed the group to install a repeater, which boosts the signal, allowing all members to receive pages. She did so without asking for anything in return.

“Her house is in a prime spot,” Hillier said. “We are happy she allowed us to install the repeater there.”

Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

Organizations: Harbour-Hopeall Volunteer Fire Department, The Compass

Geographic location: Trinity Bay

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