Letter to the Editor - A Firefigher’s perspective

Monday, March 5 2012

The following is my personal opinion as a member of the Volunteer Fire Department; I do not speak on behalf of the Fire Trustees.
In my opinion, the public needs to get back to the fundamental facts that led to the design of a new firehall.
The fire trustees, (elected volunteer members of the public), are no different than any other member of the public. The only difference is they know first hand how much equipment the department has, and how much space is required to service said equipment. Now you may be thinking, “surely a ‘pre-fabricated’ metal building could certainly fulfill those needs,” but what the trustees are also aware of, and witness first hand, is that arguably the most important factor that contributes to a successful volunteer fire department is the comradery shared between members. Any firefighter will tell you, breaking bread together in a warm and inviting atmosphere is the biggest contributing factor to team spirit. Not to mention having a comfortable place to debrief and unwind after a traumatic event. (And to clarify, by unwind I don’t mean hanging around drinking beers. The hall has been dry for years.)
Now, after digesting all that you may still be thinking, ‘that small kitchen and dining area in the existing hall seemed to do just fine for building comradery in decades past,’ but what I can tell you is Gabriola is not unique in the fact that we are starving for new committed members. I’m 23 years old, (the second youngest on the department) born and raised on Gabriola. Out of all the people I grew up with on Gabriola, 1 still lives here. Ask me how many people, my age, I’ve met that have moved TO Gabriola. We should be doing everything in our power to attract and retain volunteers, because one day having full time firefighters isn’t wishful thinking, its a reality. Perhaps it’s because I’m one of the very few who might still be here in 50 years, that I think to build for the future.
Finally, it is unfair to think that the trustees actually gain something from this; they work tirelessly, without pay, for the betterment of our department and I applaud them.
Cheers, Nigel Denholm