GORE BAY – While their biggest priority is in responding to and fighting fires, you will see the Gore Bay-Gordon/Barrie Island Fire Department and its members in the community volunteering at many different activities.
Last Friday, a member of the fire department, in a fire truck, led a parade of local residents in their vehicles with lights and horns blaring as they passed by the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay to pay tribute and thank the staff of the Lodge for their efforts in helping to make sure residents of the nursing home are healthy and so far not affected by COVID-19, continuing downtown to acknowledge all the businesses that have remained open to serve the public during the coronavirus outbreak.
Another prime example recently is the fire department’s efforts in delivering groceries to local residents who have placed orders at Dean’s Valu-Mart in Gore Bay.
“People are very appreciative that we are helping with this,” said Fire Chief Mike Addison. “We are helping seniors and people who are having to be extra careful in regard to their immune systems with COVID-19.”
Firefighter “Duncan (Sinclair) is co-ordinating this grocery delivery service and does most of the deliveries when he can. But if he is not available he will arrange for other members of the fire department to do this.”
Mr. Addison noted, “we are jointly owned by the town (Gore Bay) and the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island. It’s been working very well,” pointing out this took amalgamation place about eight years ago.
Mr. Addison explained, “right now we have 18 members of the fire department. Every one of the firefighters has to go through training. Even now with COVID-19, training takes place in very small groups to maintain the social distancing.” And firefighters can take training sessions online as well.
Despite COVID-19, “we are still responding to fire calls,” said Mr. Addison. “Our members are keeping their required distance from each other and when, for instance, we use the fire trucks, after it is used the steering wheel, windows and inside the vehicle are thoroughly cleaned.”
The Gore Bay Volunteer Fire Department “is going into its second year of the online training service. Firefighters can go online and watch training videos, ask questions and send their answers to me so we can track their progress in the program. It can mean a lot of hours, especially when there is a provincial change in legislation and training standards—we have to catch up. It’s a matter of being on top of things.”
The Gore Bay Fire Department leads the Honour Guard for the Island fire departments. “John Baker is our leader on this. We have five firefighters from our department that participate in the honour guard, and quite often at events other fire departments around the Island take part as well.”
Mr. Addison pointed out the fire department is part of Manitoulin Mutual Fire Aid with other neighbouring fire departments on the Island. “This has worked out very well,” he said, explaining, “if we respond to a fire we can’t handle on our own we can call another fire department for assistance, and if they are in the same position, we can assist them.”
The Gore Bay Volunteer Fire Department annually puts on the fireworks at the Canada Day celebrations in Gore Bay and takes part in other functions like the Kite Festival and Harbour Days. “It gives us the opportunity to get out in the community.”
“We also visit the school (Charles C. McLean Public School in Gore Bay) to talk to the students during Fire Prevention Week. We also do inspections of buildings and fire alarms when it is required. We have a very good group of volunteer firefighters.”