More than 100 firefighters gather to honour former Dundalk Fire Chief, who died of a line-of-duty illness

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More than 100 fire and emergency personnel gathered Sunday, Nov. 22 for the ceremonies for former Dundalk Fire Chief John Thompson, who died from brain cancer, acquired in the line of duty.

He passed away Nov. 17, 2020, in his 62nd year. He is survived by his wife, Joanne, children Jennifer (Steve) and Mike (Erin) and grandchildren Ryleigh, Bradyn, Jaxyn and Jaykob Thompson.

The legacy of the family with the small-town volunteer department spans more than a century. The former chief recently had the satisfaction of seeing his grandsons Bradyn and Jaxyn join their father Michael, as active members of the Dundalk Fire Department.

Jaxyn actually completed his training with recruits from late 2019 but had to wait on his 18th birthday earlier this year to officially become an auxiliary. His grandfather, John, was also 18 when he joined the volunteer department in 1977.

John’s father Verral Thompson started with the Dundalk Fire Brigade before it was organized as an official department, serving more than 50 years, in later years moving into doing the bookkeeping and incident reporting. John's son, Michael, is a trained paramedic and a captain with nine years on the Dundalk department.

A widely-attended drive-through visitation was held at the fire hall on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 21. Firefighters lined the street on Sunday as part of special arrangements, organized by the Dundalk department and Fire Chief Derek Malynyk.

Grey Highlands Fire Department remarked on Twitter, “What an amazing show of support for Chief John Thompson, 22 fire apparatus, over 100 firefighters representing 12 different Emergency Services. Honored to be part of the Chief’s final ride. Well done.”

Southgate Township Mayor John Woodbury expressed the condolences of council and staff to the Thompson family at last week’s council meeting.

“It’s a blow to the community when we lose somebody like him,” he said. "John and his family have been dedicated to firefighting and to the community for generations.”

Mr. Thompson served as Fire Chief for 17 years, before his health forced him to resign.

He was an active sportsman and a prominent member of the community, being part of the Dundalk Legion and a minor hockey coach. He worked as a heavy truck mechanic and for the Southgate Recreation department.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald