BRIGUS, NL — Dave King has reached a rare milestone within the world of firefighting.
The 68-year-old Brigus resident was recently recognized for 50 years of service with the local fire department.
He wasn't alone when it came to receiving noteworthy kudos at the fireman's ball. His colleague, Denzil Norman, was honoured for reaching the 40-year mark.
They remain heavily involved in the department to this day. King is the current treasurer, and both help out with fundraisers. Norman said if the department gets a call, he's still ready to hook up a hose.
"I joined in '77," said Norman, 66. "I never wore a breathing apparatus, but I used to be on the hose all the time. If there's a fire tonight, I'll be there with the hose."
"I love the fire department," King added. "I love coming down, and if I can help out, I'll help out. The morale is there."
A lot has changed since King came on board with the fire department in 1967, a mere two years after it was formed (his father Thomas was a founding member). Back then, Brigus used a single truck. King wore a long raincoat when the brigade was called to a scene, and he had to personally purchase his boots.
Over time, the brigade's fortunes improved, with new equipment and more money coming into the fire hall through fundraising activities.
"Over the years, we've been a pretty viable fire department," said King, who is also a former fire chief. "No big cost to the town — it keeps the taxes and everything down for the people of the town. Right now, I think we've got 27 members, so it's good. A lot of younger members on now, which is good."
King and Norman can pass on their knowledge to younger firefighters as needed. They've come across plenty of unique situations, some of which carry with them sad memories.
"We've had three really bad fires with life lost in it," said King, who was the first firefighter on the scene for one of those incidents.
King's family has been heavily involved with the department over the years. Two of his brother, Frederick and Bill, have served with the brigade, with Bill still an active firefighter. His wife Marie and sister Betty Carter were founding members of the Ladies Auxiliary and are active to this day. And brother-in-law George Fry, still an active firefighter, is closing in on 50 years of service himself.
"There's some of them reaching 65 — why not let them stay on as long as they want," Chief Rodney Mercer told the Compass. "They were the founding members. I'd say they're welcome to anything. If they want to go to a fire, they can go to a fire. If they want to stay home, they can stay home, because they've done their deeds."
Mercer paid particular attention to King's vital role within the department 50 years in.
"He looks after the money, and I mean, you've got to have someone with a good knowledge on their head," he said with respect to the fire department's treasurer.