Service medal ceremony honours dedicated County firefighters

Service medal ceremony honours dedicated County firefighters
By Sharon Harrison
County Live
Link to article: Service medal ceremony honours dedicated County firefighters

While firefighting has its serious side, there were smiles, much applause and camaraderie at the Wellington and District Community Centre Sunday for a Long Service Medal Ceremony.

Fifty-eight members of the Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue received awards for 10, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of dedicated service before proud family members, work colleagues and friends seated in the Highline Hall.

Prince Edward County Fire Chief Scott Manlow thanked and congratulated the County’s firefighters for protecting citizens and visitors to the community.

“Each of you brings your knowledge, your skill, your input to contribute to the foundation of this strong, diverse fire department and when the pager sounds, we come together as a team with one common goal – to protect and serve,” said Manlow. “We are family. We support each other, we work together, we laugh together and we shed tears.

“As chief, I would like to say thank you to you and your families. Your dedication is the backbone of Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue.”

“In Prince Edward County, we are fortunate to have so many dedicated firefighters and fire staff. The service you provide to residents and visitors is outstanding. Any time of day, any season of the year, we can count on you to answer the call,” said Prince Edward County’s CAO James Hepburn. “Firefighting is not easy. It can be dangerous, challenging work.”

He also noted the milestones to be celebrated could not have happened without the sacrifice of family members.

“County men and women from all walks of life put in many hours of training in addition to holding down other jobs. They have to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice to put themselves at risk to help others in need.”

Longest serving were Leonard Bedford, William Bedford, Roger Flower and Robert Tolley each presented with 45 Year Service Provincial Bars.

“Today means quite a bit to me,” said Tolley. “I love the County and I grew up in the County and I was here at three-years-old. I decided that the County was going to be my life.” On receiving his award for 45 years of service, Tolley added, “I am so glad to have served them and I am thankful that they allowed me to serve.”

Flower, who has just completed 48 years of service, said his 45-year medal means a lot to him.

“I look back over the 48 years and I’ve seen so many changes, so many heartaches, some laughter and today is one of those days that we can smile and have our own appreciation for our past and that’s important. The big thing today is the changes [in firefighting], they’re immense,” said Flower.

William Bedford (his friends call him Bill) and Leonard Bedford are brothers who live next door to each other. Both men have been involved with the local fire department for most of their lives and both were proud recipients of the 45 Year Service Provincial Bars.

“The medal is satisfaction for the all the years you’ve put in and the lives we’ve saved and that’s great,” said William. “I mean we’ve had hugs from a lady that we saved her life and thank-yous and so much from people. It’s so nice to do something for the community and I’ve enjoyed it.”

He too has been with the department for 48 years and also noted the changes since he began.

“Everything has changed. We were firefighters at first and now a lot of us are working with the paramedics, as first response is big now. The job has changed. We have so many older retirees in the County and it’s nice to be able to help them.”

Leonard Bedford said receiving his medal means a lot to him.

“I never expected at any time when I started that I would reach this stage, but my health is good,” he said. Leonard is one of the originals from the Carrying Place hall when it was set up many years ago.

“It’s been great and I’ve enjoyed it and I’m glad to be of service. It’s so great to be healthy and not to sustain any serious injuries over the years,” said Leonard. “I can remember when I first began in the fire department and going out at night and hoping somebody else would be there when I got there. I lived very close to the fire hall and I would be taking the truck out – and as volunteers you want to make sure somebody else is there when you arrive on scene.”
Leonard shared a fond memory of how he managed to melt the light off a truck many years ago by parking it too close to the fire.

MPP Todd Smith arrived, after participating in the Picton Santa Claus Parade, just in time to thank the full-time and volunteer members.

“I’ve talked to a number of you about some of the encounters that you’ve had on the job and some of the lives that you’ve saved. Thank you for what you do, it is much appreciated,” said Smith.

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Rutter was the afternoon’s master of ceremonies as medals were awarded.

Ten Year Service County Pins were awarded to Leo Alarie, Jason Courneyea, Tim DeMarsh, Brent Insley, Tim Jones, Brad Kerr, Doug Morrow, Dwayne Storms and Rob Wood (retired).

Gord Bell, Richard Copple, Bob Downey, Jason Fairman (retired), Jerry Ferguson, Greg Gorsline, Andrew Prinzen, Robert Rorabeck, Bruce St. James (retired), Brian Yott and Jim Young were awarded 20 Year Federal Medals.

Twenty-five Year Provincial Medal and Companion Brooches were presented to Mike Bond, Mike Branscombe, Craig Burris, Steve Coates, Paul Creasy, Peter Hagerman (retired), Kevin Harrington, Don Leavitt, Scott Manlow, Greg O’Hara (retired), Paul Vidito, David Wetherall and Shawn Whalen and their respective spouses.

The 30 Year Federal and Provincial Bars recipients were Carm Courneyea, Richard Doyle, Terry Kewley, Robert Manlow, Maurice Miller, Greg Moore, Earl Munroe, Don Williams (retired), Peter Williams, Dale Wood and Randy York. Robert Rutter also received a 30 Year Bar which Scott Manlow stepped in to present so that Rutter did not have to present the medal to himself.

Dan Bakker, Elmer Bentley, Rick Campbell, Peter Cole, David Fox, George Storms, Stephen Vickers and Brent Walker each received a 35 Year Provincial Bar.

The sole recipient of the 40 Year Federal and Provincial Bar was Paul Minaker (retired).

The afternoon culminated with the presentation of 45 Year Service Provincial Bars to Leonard Bedford, William Bedford, Roger Flower and Robert Tolley each receiving 45 Year Service Provincial Bars.

With the presentations and closing remarks concluded, The Firefighter’s Prayer was recited as the afternoon rounded out with a light luncheon.

Firefighter’s Prayer:
When I am called to duty God,
wherever flames may rage,
Give me strength to save a life,
whatever be its age.

Help me to embrace a little child
before it is too late,
Or save an older person from
the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert,
To hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling and
To give the best in me,
To guard my friends and neighbours,
and protect their properties.

And if according to Your will
I have to lose my life,
Bless with Your protecting hand,
My children and my wife.

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