It’s important to recognize front-line workers more than ever before.
The annual recognition night for King Fire and Emergency Services took on a new twist this year and was carried out virtually.
Fire Chief Jim Wall noted 2020 was the first time in the history of King Fire and Emergency Services the event was cancelled due to an emergency – the pandemic,
“In the past we have come extremely close to ‘pausing’ one of our Recognition Nights when the pager goes off and it seems like all of our staff members run out the building for an emergency incident, but this one is clearly a first for all of us.
“This crisis has created a single commonality amongst every one of us… we are all at risk from COVID-19.
“Winston Churchill who served as Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II knew a thing or two about managing a crisis.
One of Churchill’s most well-known quotes during World War II was “never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Wall said what is inspiring about Churchill’s quote is it causes us to look for a silver lining during a crisis and to seek opportunities where they might not have been before.
“And for our team of King Township firefighters you did just exactly that. You searched for those opportunities.”
There is a silver lining to all of this and it’s all because of “our professional team of volunteer firefighters.
“You have stood behind me during this crisis; you have stood to the side of me, and yes many times in front of me. You have continued to go above and beyond the call of duty during this pandemic. What was normal for us is no longer normal. And the new abnormal has become your new normal.”
Wall said he recalls a conversation he had with Mayor Pellegrini at last year’s Remembrance Day Wall congratulated him on his retirement from the City of Brampton and hold the mayor how fortunate we were to have you as our mayor.
“And you can pretty much anticipate what his response was. Steve said he circles himself with the best people. These people support him no matter what the cause or circumstances may be.”
Wall said he has been fortunate enough to surround himself with the best of the best, “our team of volunteer firefighters.
“As a team you have been there shoulder-to-shoulder through this entire pandemic. And I want to thank you for this. You understand the importance of safeguarding one another from each other; you continually respond and protect the public that we swore to serve, and yes you continue to respect the need to protect our core business so we can respond another day.
“My admiration for all of you continues to run deep and is purely genuine. And it doesn’t matter if you have 5 years or 38 years, all of your contributions really count.
“I must say I truly missed having last year’s appreciation night. It’s a night that pretty much our entire fire department gets together for dinner, a few laughs, as well acknowledge the great men and women who proudly serve our municipality.
“The only way we will ever get back to this is, we all have to do our part and it starts with following public health and provincial guidelines. Trust me … I like to shake hands and give hugs, but this has become non-existent for all of us.”
Mayor Pellegrini offered his praise and heart-felt message on behalf of the Township.
“The jobs that you do each and every day are now that much more stressful due to COVID-19,” he said.
“Volunteerism has always been strong in King Township and your selfless service to others is strong evidence of that.
“If you add up the total years of service just from those being honoured tonight, you come up with 223 years. That’s more than two centuries worth of experience. If we added up all the years of service from all those on the service you can see exactly how well the community is being served.
“Thank you for leaving in the middle of the night or excusing yourself in the middle of a meal with your family to respond to emergency calls.”
The mayor said training may be tedious or very intense at times, but it truly pays off when you use the information in real life situations.
“And now you have to contend with added safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It adds one more uncertainty when you leave the fire hall on a call.
“I’m proud to report that you have shown leadership during this crisis by being the first department in York Region to offer the COVID-19 screening test to all of staff.
“It also sends a powerful message about the importance of taking this pandemic seriously as you do your part in helping slow the spread of the virus.
“Thank you for helping make King Township a safer place.”
Receiving their 5-year service pins were Carmine Curcio, Shayne Maglay, Daniel Mitchell, Jakob Schneider, Trevor Storey, Heather Watson, Colin Young and Andrew Zacchigna.
Recognized for 15 years of service were Dan Cullen, Yvette McHugh, Randy Shepherd.
Getting the nod for 20 years, with the Federal Exemplary Medal & Certificate, was David Boyd.
Retired firefighters Gerry Binsfeld (38 years), Ray Fortin (23 years) and Renzo Cescolini (32 years) were also honoured.
Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel