Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thinking of & Thanking Pelham Fire Fighters

Hearing a siren of any type in our Town makes us think immediately of the person needing help. It is a family member or friend whose vehicle has flipped over? Are they headed for our neighbour down the street who has heart problems?

And, then, since they are usually first to the scene of an emergency, Council and I think about the safety of our dedicated Pelham Fire Fighters.

As you may know, when someone calls 911 with a medical call, fire call, or general emergency, Regional dispatch pages Pelham volunteer firefighters. The dedicated men and women drop whatever they are doing with the families or at work and immediately head to the fire hall. (As you can imagine, this can be especially stressful for and demanding on their families.)

Once they get to the Fire Hall, they jump into their bunker gear, run to the appropriate fire / rescue vehicle, and drive to the emergency. While it’s difficult to drive one of the large fire vehicles normally, it’s even more of a challenge to drive one in an emergency!

How do our fire fighters know what to do? How do they prepare?

They train every week – week in and week out. They practice with the equipment – from pulling out the hoses and spraying down a target, to stabilizing and cutting open old vehicles to practice using the “jaws of life.” They practice putting on their breathing apparatuses and searching for victims in a smoke-filled room. Other times they check and fix equipment or learn the latest techniques in a classroom setting; then they try it hands on. Other times, they stage mock disasters – like a tanker truck hitting a school bus – and involve all three stations and the Police Service and Niagara EMS. And, while I am not doing it justice here, they practice, and practice, and practice for every types of emergency.

Many members of our Fire Service also attend the Ontario Fire College for specific courses based on the Ontario Fire Service Standards; this includes officer training and instruction. It’s great that our volunteer fire fighters take advantage of the programs and courses so that they can continue to be among the best-trained and most professional members of the Ontario fire service.

Many Pelham fire fighters have served the community for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and even 35 years! That’s absolutely amazing dedication and service!

On your behalf, I express my deep appreciation for the dedication, commitment, sacrifice, and hard work of each of the more than 85 part-time, professional firefighters in Pelham!