NOTL firefighters to celebrate 200th anniversary

By Penny Coles, Niagara Advance

Niagara-on-the-Lake has the oldest fire service in the province, and possibly the oldest in the country.


The NOTL fire department was established in 1816, after the hostilities of the War of 1812, which included the burning of the town, were concluded, and this year celebrates 200 years of uninterrupted service.

The town is putting a focus group in place to decide how to commemorate that accomplishment, expecting a "wish list" of events and a request for resources to come to council, says Coun. Betty Disero, who has been named to the committee.

"Nobody really knows what events will take place, but our firefighters deserve the moon. Whether or not we can afford to do that is what we need to discuss. But on a day-to-day basis for 200 years, we have been putting our lives in their hands, and they've delivered. We need to support their request to celebrate that accomplishment."

The town firefighters are volunteers, and always have been, said Disero.

"They're displaying the best of the town in the work they do, and the sense of community we have here. They've been providing this important service from the beginning, and they deserve the support of council and the community. They deserve a celebration."

At Monday's committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Terry Flynn said although he is a firefighter, as were his father and great-grandfather, he doesn't want to be on the committee to plan the celebration - he wants to be able to enjoy the festivities.

He suggested Disero, who originally introduced the idea of a celebration to council, and Coun. Jim Collard, whom he referred to as the "senior member" on council, be appointed to the focus group.

Coun. Paolo Miele, who had expressed an interest in being part of the planning process, will also be on the committee.

NOTL firefighters are considering some special events in the community and some sort of keepsake to mark this historic year, the report to the community and development advisory committee said.

There are documents and photographs that tell a story of a long and distinguished service that includes a 75-year milestone for the St. Davids station, the report said.

The financial implications of the celebrations "may be substantial," depending on the outcome of the discussions of the focus group and the direction of council.

The focus group will also include five firefighters - one from each of the five stations in NOTL - and Fire Chief Alex Burbidge.


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