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January 9, 2012
By Jennifer Grigg

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Jan. 9, 2011 – Can you imagine doing the same thing for 20 years? Seems like a long time to me. It’s half of my life, actually. (Yes, I said it, I’M 40! Stop snickering!). I’m cool and I know it – doesn’t matter how old my birth certificate says I am. (I know, about as cool as those two guys are sexy who sing Sexy and I Know It.)

Jan. 9, 2011 – Can you imagine doing the same thing for 20 years? Seems like a long time to me. It’s half of my life, actually. (Yes, I said it, I’M 40! Stop snickering!). I’m cool and I know it – doesn’t matter how old my birth certificate says I am. (I know, about as cool as those two guys are sexy who sing Sexy and I Know It.)

Anyway, my point is that 20 years is a significant amount of time to be involved in any one thing; if you’ve been in it for that long, you must really love it.

I started as a volunteer firefighter in 1997, which would put me at the 15-year mark this year, had I not been away from the service for four years. I never stopped thinking about it, mind you. It’s just something that once it’s gotten under your skin, you’re hard pressed to ever let it go completely. I know of retired full-time firefighters who still have a scanner in their homes and their vehicles, and volunteers who have fire-department plates and green lights long after leaving. I can understand the plates – once you’ve dished out the $300 for them of course you’re going to keep using them; but the green light on the dash? Not sure about that one. Like I said, it’s hard to let go.

Which is most likely the reason why there are many members of volunteer fire departments who have surpassed the 20-year mark, some even 30, 40 and 50. It just becomes a part of your life, ingrained as deeply as the daily habits you practise or the longstanding inside jokes families share. It’s a part of your identity, instantly recognizable by any other volunteer firefighter anywhere. The pager, the green light, the licence plate, the sticker on the windshield, the t-shirt. Oh, the t-shirts. Firefighters looove their FD t-shirts.

Now is the time to acknowledge your fellow firefighters (you know, the ones in your hall who you refer to as the old boys) who have surpassed 20 years of service and continue to serve their communities. The guys who started back when PPE consisted of turnout coats and rubber boots, facial hair wasn’t an issue (they all had moustaches and sideburns) and some even drove old milk trucks as their tankers (in Port Severn, anyway). They have tons of stories about the good old days and are more than happy to share them with anyone who wants to listen. They are the backbone of the volunteer fire service and the last ones looking to stand out, which is precisely why they deserve it.

The Canadian Volunteer Fire Service Association Lifetime Achievement Award annually honours an individual whose remarkable achievements in the fire service and community exemplify outstanding performance. The recipient is determined through a Canada-wide nomination process.

You can find more information here .

Think about the old boys in your department and how great an honour it would be for them to be nominated. It’s your turn to pay it forward.

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