ST. ANTHONY, NL – Gathered together at the town’s Royal Canadian Legion Saturday, Oct. 21, government ministers and community members came to show their appreciation for St. Anthony’s Volunteer Fire Department.
Fire Chief Peter Green reflected on the 23 volunteers’ busy work this year, from house fires, chimney fires, and a car fire. The crew was even called to a sinking boat earlier this year.
Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Eddie Joyce attended the appreciation dinner and assured the volunteers that any future application for a new fire hall will be looked at with a “special and attentive eye.”
“When you see a fire, you run to help. That’s why every opportunity I get I thank our volunteer fire people for keeping our communities safe,” said Joyce. “Your new fire truck is coming in November, and with that will come our continual support to firefighters.”
Joyce also stressed the importance of logging the details of fires, as it can become an important resource if firefighters were to ever be diagnosed with cancer. As well, he discussed a future committee put in place to help first responders in the province who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“With the responsibility placed on them now, I’ve witnessed it many times in our first responders,” he said. “Government is looking to protect all first responders with this issue.”
Long Range Mountains MP Gudie Hutchings and St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows MHA Christopher Mitchelmore also spoke to the volunteers and their families, extending their gratitude for the works they do and risks they take.
Hutchings commented on how surprised many in Ottawa are when she talks about the prevalence of volunteer fire departments in Newfoundland and Labrador.
St. Anthony’s newly appointed Mayor Desmond McDonald also prepared a speech for the event.
“The time you devote and the sacrifices you make are second to none,” McDonald told the volunteers.
Green handed out flowers to each of the Firettes, the fire department’s ladies’ auxiliary, to thank them for their contributions and help to the organization.
After the dinner and speeches were through, music was provided by the band Jason Rogers. To conclude the evening’s speeches, Deputy Mayor Krista Howell read words from a firefighter on the sense of duty that is engrained in the role.
“For those willing to answer the call, it’s second nature,” said Howell. “And that’s engraved in each and every one of you here.”