West End municipalities recognize valuable services of fire department

Exemplary service award! Mike Addison, fire chief of the Gore Bay Joint Fire Department, has received a 20 year “loyalty and exemplary service award to public service in Canada” by the Governor General of Canada. In photo, Gordon/Barrie Island Reeve Lee Hayden (left) and Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane (right), present Mr. Addison (centre in photo) with the award.

GORDON—The communities of Gore Bay and Gordon/Barrie Island joined together at an open house last week to bade a heartfelt thank you to members of the Gore Bay Joint Fire Department.

“When you talk about heroes, these guys are heroes,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane at the volunteer fire department open house appreciation night, which included several awards being handed out. “They deserve our appreciation and our support.”

“Do you know what it is like to be a volunteer firefighter?” asked Carrie Lewis, fire board administrator as she addressed those in attendance. “What they invest of themselves, their families, to come to the aid of the community, to fight fires, save lives?”

Gore Bay firefighter John Baker, left, is presented with a Company Officer Level No. 1 certificate, by Gore Bay Fire Chief Mike Addison.
Gore Bay firefighter John Baker, left, is presented with a Company Officer Level No. 1 certificate, by Gore Bay Fire Chief Mike Addison.
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“Every once in a while we like to make an effort to honour and appreciate our volunteer firefighters. We’d like to introduce you to members of our Gore Bay Joint Fire Department to acknowledge what they do for our communities. Fire chief Michael Addison, deputy chief Duncan Sinclair, captain John Baker, captain Mike Ziegel, captain Cole McLaughlin, Raymond Bauman (absent at the event), Andy Campbell, James Martin, Shane Ingram, Jack Clark, Steve Baker (absent), Skip Bloxam, Keith Finnila, and Justin Harris take us in the fire station and into their lives, as volunteer firefighters.”

Ms. Lewis noted, “in communities all over Ontario, there are thousands of volunteer firefighters who add their efforts to those of ours at the Gore Bay Fire Department. All are standing by on duty, ready to come to your aid should you need it. Volunteer firefighters voluntarily commit to making every effort within their scope of training and ability to assists fellow residents in our most vulnerable time of need.

“Grass fires, barn fires, home fires, place of business fires, vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, jumping into frigid water to assist a damsel in distress. Volunteer firefighters respond to calls each year within our small communities here on Manitoulin Island,” said Ms. Lewis.

“They respond at all hours of the day. Get called out on weekends and holidays,” continued Ms. Lewis. “They have missed family events and anniversaries. Volunteering as a firefighter is in addition to their day jobs and family. Juggling many hats, to serve their community, and save lives, homes and businesses.”

“We invite you to look more closely at your local volunteer fire department,” said Ms. Lewis. “Get to know the members of your fire department-extend a thank you. Practice fire and accident prevention so they don’t have to come to your rescue! Support a fundraising event. Become a volunteer with your department; there are many areas you can help, not just respond to fires.”

“Be a champion for your local volunteer fire department, help spread the word about their activities and events,” said Ms. Lewis.

“The Town of Gore Bay and the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island invite you to join us as we say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to volunteer firefighters, their families and supporters here on Western Manitoulin and everywhere,” said Ms. Lewis.

Gordon/Barrie Island Reeve Lee Hayden, chair of the fire board said, “welcome and thank you for coming to join us tonight in showing our appreciation and support for our volunteer firefighters. We wanted to provide the public with the opportunity to see our fire hall facility and show what our volunteer firefighters do for their community. Feel free to speak with a volunteer firefighter, ask questions about what they do, how they do it or about the building and equipment at the fire hall.”

Reeve Hayden explained, “the joint fire department was established January 2010 as a result of the town of Gore Bay and the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island joining forces to provide fire services for the areas within the municipal boundaries of the two communities.”

“The Town of Gore Bay acquired partial funding for the building of a new fire hall, the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island came on board shortly after this process and contributed half toward the project,” said Reeve Hayden. “Since then a new pumper and tanker have been purchased as well as a half ton and other needed updates to equipment.”

“The joint board of management was created with representation from the volunteer firefighters, the council of the Town of Gore Bay and the council of the Municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island,” continued Reeve Hayden. “The fire committee provides coordination, communications and endeavours to provide policy and standards to assist in the efficient operation of fire services. This is all accomplished with the assistance of administration and volunteer fire fighters.”

“The councils of the day undertook this endeavour to provide for more cost effective service,” said Reeve Hayden. “During the transition period a new board was formed, with Dan Osborne as the chair. The fire department provides not only response to fire, but also  public education, inspections, smoke alarm programs and community service.”

“The volunteer fire department has come a long way in the past few years with the assistance of the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office and many hard working council, staff and volunteers,” said Reeve Hayden. “I think (Gore Bay) Mayor Ron Lane will agree that we have a facility and volunteer fire department to be proud of.”

“I would like to welcome everyone here this evening,” said Mayor Lane. “Lee spoke about the history of the fire department and this fire hall. Anyone involved in municipal government knows this comes with serious. Six years ago the fire hall we had in town was less than adequate, and the firefighting equipment was old. We couldn’t afford to fix all of this ourselves, so we looked to our good neighbour. Negotiations with Gordon/Barrie Island took place and the joint fire board was created.”

Mike Addison, fire Chief of the Gore Bay Joint Fire Department, right, presents a Company Officer Level No. 1 certificate to firefighter Mike Zegil.
Mike Addison, fire Chief of the Gore Bay Joint Fire Department, right, presents a Company Officer Level No. 1 certificate to firefighter Mike Zegil.

“Existing members of the fire department took over and new members came on. They have done a lot of work, gone through extensive training, and today they are the best possible educated-trained fire department we can have,” said Mayor Lane.

A special award was then presented to Fire Chief Mike Addison. “Mike Addison joined the Gore Bay fire department in May 1995,” said Ms. Lewis. “He started as a volunteer firefighter and has seen many changes in the fire department over the years.”

“Mike was in the position of deputy fire chief proudly supporting Fire Chief Mike Steele when the community of Gordon/Barrie Island and Gore Bay decided to join to create a new joint fire department to serve both communities,” said Ms. Lewis. “Upon the retirement of fire chief Mike Steele, applications were requested for a new fire chief. It seems fitting that Mike Addison was interested in filling these boots.”

“Mike continuously works towards the improvement of the volunteer fire department and his passion and appreciation for the provision of fire services shows in the team of volunteer fire fighters that he leads,” continued Ms. Lewis.

Mayor Lane and Reeve Hayden then asked Mr. Addison to join them as they presented him with a certificate along with a medal for 20 years of, “loyal and exemplary service to public security in Canada” from the Governor General of Canada.

Mayor Lane said, “Mike, it is with gratitude and appreciation that we, on behalf of the councils, present to you, ‘The Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal.’ We thank you for your contribution to your communities over the years.”

“Back when this hall was started, one person was the catalyst; that was Mike Addison,” said Reeve Hayden. “He had approached me while I was back on council, and Dan (Osborne) on council from Gore Bay, and we went back to our councils with this idea. It was Mike that planted the seed.”

“Mike provides passion and dedication as fire chief, and we thank him for all his efforts,” said Reeve Hayden.

Mr. Addison said, “we have a very dedicated and committed fire team and we have come a long way from where we started. It was a number of years before we had all the fire gear that is needed, and there was definitely a need for a new fire hall, and new fire equipment. We are proud of the new hall and appreciate the support we  have received from Gore Bay and Gordon/Barrie Island.”

Mr. Addison presented a 10 year service pin to Mike Zegil. Raymond Bauman received a five year pin.

A 20 year service medal was also presented to Mr. Addison.

Mr. Addison explained, “we do a lot of training, in house, through the Ontario Fire Marshal, and mutual aid. Some of our  members have attained the Company Officer Level #1 certification-diploma for the number of courses they have completed through the Ontario Fire College. Three other members of our fire department have received this recognition, one moved away and I would like to present Mike Zegil and John Baker with this award from the Ontario Fire College.”

Special presentations were then made to all the fighters in appreciation of their  service to the Gore Bay Joint Fire Department.