A heartfelt thank you

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Firefighters Association held their annual Fireman reception Saturday night at the Knights of Columbus hall.

The Amherstburg Fire Department officially said goodbye to five of their family members and celebrated the years of service of three others.

Former Fire Chief Rick Murray, Captain Glenn Murray, firefighter Roger Deslippe, Captain Brian Ferguson and Paul Kelly were all honoured by the Firefighters Association in front of friends and family has they officially retired.

Also, firefighter Brian Gibb, Captain Don Deslippe and Captain Bill Pillon were honoured for their 20 years of service.

Pillon, who has been battling cancer for the past seven months, drew a standing ovation as he accepted his 20 years of service bars from Fire Chief Randy Sinasac.

Pillon thanked the fire department for their “overwhelming support” in the past seven months. He stated that during his recovery he has received over 400 cards from as far as St. Thomas giving him their support.

“If that’s not a family, nothing is,” said Pillon.

Pillon also thanked his family for helping him through this difficult time.

“I would like to thank my family for coming tonight and putting up with me for the last seven months,” said Pillon. “Especially to my incredible wife, who saved my life. I’m very proud to be an Amherstburg firefighter.”

Paul Kelly who has been with the Amherstburg Fire Department for 31 years acknowledged the Firefighters Association, stating that he has learned a lot over his 31 years.

“I really didn’t want to retire, but I guess my age dictated that I had to,” joked Kelly.

Kelly said there are a lot of changes that are occurring in the department, all of which, according to Kelly, are for the better.

“We have some really good recruits coming up and I’d just like to pass the torch,” said Kelly.

Brian Ferguson who served on the fire department for 36 years thanked his wife and children for their support and the commitment they showed throughout his career.

“There has been a lot of cold dinners, sleepless nights and endless worrying,” said Ferguson. “I thank them for their endless support throughout the years.”

Ferguson said that he was proud to have served with all the men and women of the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“Be safe and thank you all for your service,” he said.

Roger Deslippe has served on the Amherstburg Fire Department for 39 years. Deslippe thanked everyone for attending the awards dinner and showing their support to all the firefighters being honoured Saturday night.

“Thirty-nine years goes by pretty quick,” said Deslippe. “There is an old country song that says don’t blink because the years go by.”

Deslippe told the audience that he enjoyed being a firefighter every day.

Captain Glenn Murray has said goodbye after 42 years as an Amherstburg Firefighter.

Murray said ever since he was a kid he knew he wanted to be a firefighter.

“I want to thank the town of Amherstburg for allowing me to get on the fire department because that was my goal ever since I was a kid,” said Murray.

Murray, who comes from a long line of firefighters, said he remembers hearing the fire alarm and watching his Pip running down to the fire hall.

“As I watched the fire truck go by I thought ‘oh man, I want to do that,” explained Murray.

Murray also added it was an honour to work alongside his father.

“He taught me a lot. To this day I will always remember,” he said.

Murray called his 42 years with the Amherstburg Fire Department something he will always cherish and said he has had a lot of “really good experiences” and had his chance to work with “a lot of very good people.”

“It has been a good ride. I really appreciate it because I’m sure going to miss it,” he said.

Former Fire Chief Rick Murray, who has put in 45 years of service, was also honoured for his retirement.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working under Rick,” said Fire Chief Randy Sinasac. “He has been mentoring me for many years and it is my distinct pleasure to give him this award for his 45 years of

Firefighter Chris Bastien said that Murray has always been good to the new recruits and made them feel welcome.

“It has been an honour and a privilege for me to have the opportunity to serve under Chief Rick Murray,” said Bastien.

Monique Belair, an officer from the Fire Marshall and Fire Program Specialist also honoured Murray for his years of service.

“The office of the Fire Marshall would like to commend Fire Chief Rick Murray for his tremendous contribution in addressing the fire protection needs of his community for the past 45 years,” said Belair. “Your unfailing commitment and dedication to providing an outstanding level of service to the residents of your community is to be commended.”

Murray took the podium to a standing ovation.

“For 45 years the Amherstburg Fire Department has been my passion,” Murray said.

Murray reminisced that when he started as a rookie on Jan. 1 1966, there were “a lot of Murray’s” in the department, as his father, uncle and brother were all on the department.

“During those years I’ve had the opportunity to gain knowledge and training from some of the best officers in the department,” said Murray.

Murray said it was because of what he learned from those officers that it helped make him the fireman he was today. He mentioned that he hoped that he passed his knowledge to the recruits and wished them the best of luck.

The retired Fire Chief said that his 45 years weren’t always “happy times” as he has seen many tragedies over the years.

“No one ever forgets. Unfortunately that’s part of the job and we have to learn to live with that. It takes a toll on us,” explained Murray.

Murray spoke about the good times he has had in the department such as the Fireman’s Field Day, the annual volleyball tournament and the numerous fundraisers that the department were involved in.

“This fire department is committed to this community,” he said. “We are there to do a job and we do it well.”

Murray called the Amherstburg Fire Department one of the best in the province and credited all the firefighters for their dedication, commitment and passion they show towards the department and the community.

“A chief is only as good as the firefighters under him and I think we have the best,” said Murray. “They certainly made my job a lot easier.”

Murray acknowledged past and present council for giving them the equipment to do their job “efficiently and safely.”  He added that it shows that the firefighters have councils support.

“I’m sure present and future councils will continued to show that needed support to the fire department,” Murray said.

Murray also thanked his wife, Linda and his two sons, John and Kenny for the sacrifices they made in order for him to fulfill his life long dream.

“It was hard, answering fire calls or being out of town while family functions were going on. Thank you to my kids and my wife.  To all the Amherstburg firefighters, past and present, who have made my job, as chief enjoyable. I did enjoy my time as a chief. I will certainly miss the excitement of answering a fire call and the comradeship that went with the job, thanks very much,” Murray said.

Comments are closed.