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BEHIND THE SCENES: Thorold Fire Services honours graduating class of volunteer firefighters

ThoroldToday editor Bernard Lansbergen takes us behind the scenes

The Thorold Fire Services held a meaningful ceremony on Monday evening at Fire Station 2 to celebrate the latest group of volunteer firefighters who successfully completed their training.

Following a rigorous six-month program, 12 men and one woman received their official fire helmets and were assigned to Thorold's four fire stations.

During the ceremony, Fire Chief Terry Dixon expressed gratitude for the dedication shown by the new recruits during their training. He emphasized the importance of mental health support, acknowledging that the nature of their job may expose them to challenging situations. Chief Dixon reassured the graduates that the fire department has a strong support system in place, emphasizing that it's acceptable to seek help when needed. He encouraged them to take pride in their role as firefighters, highlighting its significance.

Among the graduates, Kevin Denhollander was recognized with the prestigious Ted Lucas award for his outstanding performance during training. Captain of Training Mike Pittaway praised Denhollander's leadership qualities, noting the unanimous admiration from his fellow classmates.

The ceremony held a special significance for Brett Saxton, whose father Gerry Saxton tragically lost his life in the line of duty as a St. Catharines firefighter last November. Saxton received his fire helmet at the event, with a group of firefighters from his father's station attending to support him. Other graduates also had the privilege of having their firefighter family members present.

Reflecting on the overall group of volunteers, Captain Pittaway expressed his satisfaction, stating that they worked exceptionally well as a team and quickly developed a strong bond, making his role as a trainer easier.

The graduation ceremony holds great importance within the volunteer firefighter program as it signifies a milestone for the participants. Captain Pittaway emphasized that it is a celebration for everyone involved, acknowledging the commitment the graduates made by adjusting their work schedules and prioritizing their training. The ceremony allows loved ones and family members to join in the celebration, recognizing their invaluable support throughout the journey.

With their training completed, the 13 new recruits will begin their shifts at Thorold's four fire stations. Looking ahead, the Thorold Fire Services will start seeking new recruits in the fall, aiming to maintain a healthy rotation of personnel and continuously nurture fresh talent to keep the department strong and prepared.

Captain Pittaway expressed enthusiasm for the future, emphasizing the significance of new blood within the fire service to ensure the continuous development and skill-sharing among team members.

Video Summary:

A significant graduation ceremony was recently held at a fire station in Thorold for the city's volunteer firefighters. This ceremony marks the culmination of the rigorous six-month training program that the recruits undergo to become on-call firefighters. Twelve men and one woman were officially recognized and assigned to Thorold's four fire stations. The event was emotional for graduate Brett Saxton, whose father was a firefighter and passed away in the line of duty. Saxton received his fire helmet with the support of fellow firefighters from his father's station.

During the ceremony, Fire Chief Terry Dixon addressed the new recruits and emphasized the importance of mental health support, particularly regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The fire department has established strong support systems to assist firefighters in coping with the challenges they may face. Kevin Denhollander was honored with the Ted Lucas Award for his exceptional performance during training, showcasing strong leadership skills.

The ceremony serves as a celebration for the commitment and sacrifices made by the graduates, as well as an opportunity for their loved ones to join in the recognition. Captain Mike Pittaway expressed satisfaction with the cohesion and teamwork demonstrated by this year's group of volunteers. The completion of the program now allows the 13 new recruits to start their shifts at Thorold's fire stations, while the fire services will begin seeking new recruits in the future to maintain a strong and skilled team.