Reflections on 45 years of service

Reflections on 45 years of service

By Carol Gravelle,
Editor of the Ontario Fire Service Messenger Online

Presentation of 45-year provincial long service bar

Bruce Barton, retired Fire Chief for the Champlain Fire Department, Vankleek-Hill station was presented with his 45 year provincial long service bars at a mutual aid meeting on May 13, 2013 by Brent Sterling, Program Specialist with the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management.

Last May, Bruce Barton, retired Fire Chief for the Champlain Fire Department, Vankleek-Hill station was presented with his 45-year provincial long service bar.

Recently I called Barton on the telephone to speak with him about his achievement and to give me some insight into how firefighting has changed since he began. Barton worked as a firefighter during a time when there was no breathing apparatus and all “you had was a pair of rubber boots and a helmet.” He recalls lots of changes occurring for the betterment of occupational health and safety throughout the years, such as, access to better equipment and courses at the Ontario Fire College. He recalled when fire department staff would take courses at the College, come back home and share the information they learned with the rest of the department.

Just why was Barton drawn to join the fire service in the first place? His father had been a Fire Chief for 10 years and got him interested. Since then, Barton’s son Brent has been a firefighter and Acting Captain with Toronto Fire Services for 22 years. He said his son has had the opportunity to travel to Ireland on an exchange program where he worked at a Dublin fire department for a year. Barton also said he has a nephew with Ottawa Fire Services who has been a safety officer over the last couple of years.

What does Barton miss about the fire service? He recalled how his department would work as a family. He said the fire service was a “good brotherhood” and that “everywhere you go fire departments treat you like a next door neighbour.”

Having seen many things in his 45 years, he says he is fortunate to have his health and the company of a ‘good wife’. Today, Barton still plays a role at the fire department. He lends his friendly manner with business owners in the community to assist the new Fire Chief with inspections. One thing he won’t miss about the fire service is the pager.

All the very best in your retirement Mr. Barton!