April 26, 2012 – Manitoba MLA Ralph Eichler introduced a bill earlier this week that presses to have special license plates available for volunteer firefighters.
While many provinces offer special license plates to firefighters – volunteer and career – many provinces still do not recognize the fire service in this way. Ontario, for example, offers special plates commemorating both the Fire Service Society and the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association. Similarly, Newfoundland and Labrador have a firefighter license plate program to which career and volunteer fire fighters can apply.
However, many provinces, especially in western Canada, such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, do not have such programs.
“Large urban centres have paid fire departments that respond to emergencies,” Eichler said. “But in smaller rural communities it is volunteer fire departments that carry the responsibility.”
If successful, the bill will entitle volunteer firefighters – whether they currently serve or have served in the past – to purchase a specialty plate. The license plates will be similar to the standard Manitoba license plate, but will also include the distinctive firefighter Maltese cross, as well as the word volunteer.
“This bill recognizes the sacrifices that volunteer firefighters make to their communities,” he continued. “These specialized license plates would ensure that the important, often unnoticed, contributions of volunteer firefighters do not go unrecognized.”
Currently, Eichler and his colleagues are looking to amend the bill to include career firefighters as well, many of whom volunteer in their spare time to help smaller communities.