On behalf of the Kingston Lions, King Lion Richard Acker, right, presented Kingston Fire Chief Watson Armstrong with a plaque of recognition for the Kingston Fire Department at an appreciation event at the fire hall on Sept. 14. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Kirk Starratt
If it weren’t for the fast actions of Valley volunteer firefighters, the Kingston Lions Hall and other neighbouring buildings likely would have been lost last July.
The Kingston Lions said showed their appreciation to Valley firefighters with a steak barbecue at the Kingston Fire Hall on Sept. 14. About 100 firefighters worked tirelessly during the night of July 29, knocking down the fire at the former Capital Paper warehouse and saving the neighbouring Lions Hall and other buildings.
At the appreciation event, a plaque of thanks was presented to the Kingston Fire Department.
“We don’t get too many pats on the back. We’re not here for that, but it’s nice,” Kingston Fire Chief Watson Armstrong said.
Certificates were presented to other departments that responded in mutual aid and to the local merchants who provided the food for the dinner. A small firefighter statuette will also be presented to former Berwick firefighter Brian Taylor in recognition of his fire scene photography.
Armstrong said members of the Kingston department and 17 others, stretching from Annapolis Royal to Canning, including 14 Wing Greenwood, responded that night. The call about the fire at the 3,000-square-foot, two-and-a-half storey wooden warehouse came in to Kingston firefighters at about 11:10 p.m. that evening. It took firefighters about three hours to knock it down.
Armstrong said the mutual aid system in the Valley is second to none and the response to the Kingston warehouse fire is an excellent example of it. He said it was great how everything seemed to click that night.
“Without the aerial trucks, we wouldn’t have accomplished what we did,” Armstrong said. There were aerial ladder trucks on hand from the Kingston, Kentville, Waterville, Lawrencetown and the 14 Wing Greenwood fire departments.
Kentville Fire Department safety officer Brian Desloges concurred that it’s a great mutual aid system in the Valley. He said no one had to do something like hold a barbecue to thank the volunteer firefighters. However, the Lions wanted to and it’s wonderful to be shown such support.
“We really appreciate this,” Desloges said. “This doesn’t often happen. This goes above and beyond what we usually experience.”
The inferno melted some of the siding on the Lions Hall, but King Lion Richard Acker said the siding and some windows have now been replaced.
“It was a very dramatic night,” Acker said. “We thought our building was going to be gone.”
He recalls a worrisome drive down to the hall moments after seeing an image of flames shooting over the roof of Fraser’s Pro Home Centre on the big screen in his son’s room. He called Kingston Lion’s secretary Vern Mullen, who also came to the scene. Acker said, luckily, the firefighters were able to save the neighbouring buildings, including their hall.
“Because of what we saw happen that night, we said we had to do something for the volunteers,” Acker said.
The appreciation barbecue has been in the works since the day after the fire. After hearing about the idea, Acker said many community members stepped up and offered to help.
“It’s a community effort at the end of the day,” he said.
Mullen credits Chief Armstrong for his quick thinking the night of the fire, calling in the other departments for assistance. He said it’s also a good thing that the Lions Hall has metal roofing.
See a slideshow of photos from the event HERE.