Firefighters honoured for 25+ years

Duane Hicks

Two members of the local fire department have been recognized for their long-time dedication to their calling.
Dave Crichton yesterday was presented with an Ontario Fire Services 25-year service medal by Fort Frances Fire Chief and Chief of Emergency Management Tyler Moffitt, who himself received a 25-year service medal and 30-year service bar last Thursday during a ceremony in Kenora.
“Today [Tuesday], on behalf of the Ontario Fire Marshal and as Fire Chief/CEMC for the Fort Frances Fire & Rescue Service, it is my honour to present Dave Crichton with his Long Fire Service Medal, which is in sincere appreciation of 25 years of courageous and dedicated service to the residents of Ontario, protecting their lives and property from fire,” Chief Moffitt said.
Crichton, who is captain of Apparatus and Equipment at the fire hall, has served both as a volunteer firefighter and career firefighter in his 25-plus years with the Fort Frances Fire & Rescue Service.
Originally from southern Ontario, Crichton got out of forestry school in 1982 and came up here for a summer job fighting forest fires with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“I ended up spending 20 years there,” he recalled. “Then] in ’91, I got on here as a volunteer and when the opportunity arose for a full-time job, I got on in 2000.”
Crichton, 56, added the timing of the career move was “perfect.”
He had two young daughters at the time, and being a full-time firefighter for the town allowed him to spend more time with his family.
When he was with the MNR, he was away all summer fighting forest fires.
Counting his forest firefighting career, he’s been battling blazes for 36 years.
“It’s a great career,” Crichton said. “I’ve had the opportunity to see and do lots of things most people don’t get to do.
“Certainly, you’ve got an impact with the public–saving lives and property,” he noted.
“It’s [also] a great career if you like the outdoors and you like doing physical stuff.”
Chief Moffitt, meanwhile, has been a firefighter since February, 1987.
“When I came on here, I didn’t realize what I was really getting into,” he admitted.
“It was a fire department back then–we just went to fires,” he noted. “Now, it’s fire and rescue.
“We’re fire prevention, public education, going to motor-vehicle crashes, ice rescue, things like that.”
Chief Moffitt noted with a high number of seniors in the community, firefighters now respond to more medical calls than fire ones–and frequently they’re the first to respond ahead of paramedics.
He said firefighting is a tough but rewarding job.
“I’ve been enjoying it for 30-plus years and looking to go on for another little bit,” Chief Moffitt remarked, adding there were firefighters at the awards ceremony in Kenora last week who clocked more the 40 years on the job and “loved every minute of it.”
Chief Moffitt said he agrees with Ontario Fire Marshal and CEMC D. Ross Nichols, who last week stated: “It’s so very important that we recognize our firefighters for their years of community service, particularly the volunteers that have that balance between their full-time job, their family responsibilities, and their responsibilities to their department.
“They’re getting up and going out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Nichols noted.
“Minus-30, plus-30, black flies, snowstorms, we rely on them for their service and they give back to their communities so very, very much,” he added.
First awarded in 1971, “The Fire Services Long Service Medal” is an expression of public appreciation for the dedication and hard work of Ontario firefighters.
It officially is recognized by the province and is included in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
Suspended from a red, white, and green ribbon, the circular medal bears on the obverse the Maltese cross, with the coat of arms of Ontario superimposed and the inscription, “Fire Services Ontario.”
The inscription, “For Long Service the Fire Protection and Prevention Act,” appears on the reverse.
Besides the medal, recipients also are presented with a citation, which includes their name and the signature of the Fire Marshal of Ontario.