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LETTER: Fire departments should be commended, not shunned

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Dear editor: This is in response to the recently published article, "Alcohol and Fire Departments Don't Mix" by Nicholas Mercer.

As an eight-year resident of Pasadena, I am extremely disappointed that The Western Star would publish such negativity about volunteer fire departments in the province.

This article did not mention any positive contributions volunteer fire departments have on their communities. For example, at any given public event throughout the year in Pasadena, the local volunteer fire department can be seen helping out to ensure the events are efficient and safe for residents.

I've seen the Pasadena Volunteer Fire Department directing traffic at school Christmas concerts, directing traffic at local biking and running races, giving educational presentations about fire safety to local schools, going door to door handing out free smoke alarms, cooking a community breakfast for families to enjoy with Santa during the Christmas holidays, just to name a few.

Also, the article did not mention anything about the sacrifices that volunteer firefighters make for their community. It did not mention that they are readily available (when their crew is on call) 24/7 to drop what they are doing at a moment's notice and be able to report to the fire hall within mere minutes of being paged.

It did not mention anything about firefighters being deployed at all hours throughout the night, and then going to their regular job the following day with little to no sleep.

It did not mention anything about their families having to delay gift openings and Christmas dinners on Christmas day due to them being deployed multiple times on Dec. 25.

It did not mention anything about them using up allotted time and holidays from their everyday job to travel and attend training in other jurisdictions on their own time.

It did not mention that they sacrifice one night every week to attend local training, meetings, and do equipment maintenance.

This is all above and beyond their primary purpose — to respond to fire and medical emergencies at any hour, on any day, under any circumstance, in all weather conditions.

With regards to the article, I agree and do not condone firefighters showing up on an emergency scene intoxicated.

However, I am quite confident in saying that this is also not condoned within the fire departments and most have internal policies stating that.

So what if they have a beer or two after official fire department business/training is concluded. Even if this is the case, they always have a crew that is on call and are ready to respond if needed. In any workplace/group, sometimes having a social drink outside of business hours is a good way to build camaraderie, trust and companionship, all of which are key to a well-functioning team.

In response to the statement about showing up to your job drunk: if The Western Star employees went out for a social drink or two after work hours on a Friday, they would not be considered drinking on the job or being irresponsible, and this is no different.

In conclusion, I think this article was disgraceful and brought some unwarranted negative attention to volunteer fire departments in the province.

For the record, I have no personal ties to the Pasadena Volunteer Fire Department, other than having a few friends/acquaintances that serve as members.

As a resident of the community, I can tell you that the fire department plays an integral role in the town, and they should be commended for it, not shunned.

I look forward to your followup article stating all the good things these members of our communities bring to our towns and province.

Rob Pinksen, Pasadena

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