An Evening of Honour held to recognize Saugeen Shores firefighters

It’s been eight years since Saugeen Shores firefighters were recognized in a public ceremony.  Previously, they received tributes for service every five years but, unfortunately, Covid got in the way.

Fire Chief Ed Melanson however, approached Town Council with the idea of resurrecting the ceremony and, on Saturday, October 14th, the Firefighters Evening of Honour was held in the Rotary Hall at the Plex.

Firefighters were presented with Certificates of Recognition and pins for their years of service from the Town, the Fire Marshall of Ontario and the Federal Government.  Some were also presented with medals and retirees were also recognized for their long service.

From 15 to 40 years of service, Saugeen Shores Fire Service has an incredible retention rate when it comes to Volunteer firefighters.  Their commitment and apparent dedication to the community is second to none.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that this evening was long overdue.  “We are recognizing almost 900 years in collective service as firefighters in our community.  It’s important to realize how important it is for a volunteer fire department to have this many lengthy service awards. It is a testament to your dedication, your community and to the health and safety of your fellow citizens.  For instance, since 2016 our firefighters have spent 23,000 hours attending 1,300 separate incidents and to be able to answer those calls you have spent 21,000 hours in training, and checking your equipment and emergency vehicles. It may say volunteer on your job description but there is no doubt that this is a professional fire fighting force.  We can all see how our town is growing as one of the fastest growing in Ontario and, with that, comes new demands for emergency services … we understand the time taken away from your families and your work.  Our Councils have always understood these pressures and it’s why we have increased budgets … and created a Public Education Division … public engagement is important.”

The Mayor also recognized Deputy Chief, Rob Atkinson for his more than 20 years’ service.

“For a long time Rob has been the face and voice of fire safety in this town and has worked tirelessly to keep the community safe. This new Public Education Division is a result of that work.”

 

He also went on to thank Fire Chief, Ed Melanson, saying that he was grateful Melanson had chosen to make Saugeen Shores home.  “These awards and advocacy for our firefighters reflect your vision for our fire service.”

Huron Bruce MP Ben Lobb, also in attendance, said that firefighters throughout the region have dedicated almost their entire lives to their fire departments. “It’s 20 years, 30 years and more.  You are first or second on the scene, particularly in rural communities,  and your families also feel your angst.”

 

There were 20 firefighters recognized for 15 years of Service.

20 years of Service – Government of Canada Exemplary Service Medal
Rob Atkinson
Shane Bradfield
Matt Carr

(L) Mayor Luke Charbonneau, MP Ben Lobb, Rob Atkinson and wife Deb, Fire Chief Ed Melanson
Matt Carr and guest Cortney Bye

25 years of Service – Government of Ontario long Service Medal
Paul Shular

(L)Mayor Luke Charbonneau, Fire Marshall Doucette, Paul Shular and wife Tanya, CAO Kara Van Myall and Fire Chief Ed Melanson – click on image for larger view

30+ years of Service – Federal & Provincial Long Service Bars
Jeff Ackert
Terry Chappel
Jim Threndyle
Craig Kealey

(C)Terry Chappell and wife Tina
Craig Kealey and wife Sue – for larger view, Click on Image

35 years of Service – Provincial Long Service Bar
Keith Steingart

 

 

40 years of Service – Federal & Provincial Long Service Bars
Brian Johnston

(L) Mayor Luke Charbonneau, MP Ben Lobb, Fire Marshall Doucette, Brian Johnston and wife, Lori, CAO Kara Van Myall                                                                    and Fire Chief Ed Melanson

Several retirees were also recognized and, among them, was Mike Roser (29 yrs.) and Lorne Currie, who has been part of the Saugeen Shores Fire Service for 46 years and who still takes part in the various Food Drives throughout the year.

                                                               (C) Retiree Lorne Currie
Retiree Lorne Currie and wife Barbara
     Retirees – for larger view, Click on Image
(C) Mike Rosner

Fire Chief Ed Melanson rounded out the evening thanking the service for being so welcoming on his move to Saugeen Shores.  “This has been one of the best times of my life in a community that was like this and that I have never been truly part of before.”

Melanson had a long list of names to be thanked but first and foremost was Candice Baumberger, who organized the event.  He also went on to thank Deputy Chief Rob Atkinson.  “Rob has become a dear friend and his guidance, help and advice have been truly remarkable.  The fire service is not an easy service to be in as the demands are very high and, with the province asking more and more, the demands have become even more extraordinary.”