The Thorold Fire Services held a ceremony at Fire Station 2 in Allanburg for its 2022 graduating class of volunteer firefighters.
Eight men and one woman were officially handed their fire helmets Monday night and assigned to one of Thorold’s four fire stations.
Mayor Terry Ugulini, the city's CAO Manoj Dilwaria, Fire Chief Terry Dixon, and Captain of Training Mike Pittaway were on hand to deliver heartfelt speeches.
Throughout the ceremony, one thing was immediately clear: this new batch of volunteers share the most special bond.
“They just got along so well,” said Cpt. Pittaway, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “You tell them that they succeed by being teammates and they took it upon themselves. They were meeting and organizing. They were coming in early and working on a lot of little procedures and getting ready. It was fantastic. It made my job easy.”
The volunteer firefighter program has existed in Thorold since 2018. Every January, a new group of volunteers goes through a rigorous six month program to turn them into on-call firefighters.
“It’s a tough course,” Pittaway said. “We expect a lot out of them. We don’t accept mediocrity so there’s times where they do leave, where they know they’re coming back to redo something, and maybe didn’t leave feeling positive that time. They come back as a team and they make it work together.”
Fire Chief Terry Dixon is similarly impressed with the new batch of volunteers.
“It’s a good group of firefighters,” the chief told ThoroldToday. “They worked really hard. There’s always up and downs but they get it done. Firefighting is about repetition, it’s about knowing what to do. You don’t want to second-guess yourself.”
Volunteers firefighters are an essential part of the Thorold Fire Services, according to Dixon.
“We rely on the volunteers,” he says. “We rely on them to back up our staff and to be there for the city when they need them. The commitment means a lot.”
Even though the group now gets divided up between the four different fire stations in Thorold, Pittaway says they will be bonded for life.
“Some larger fire services there’s a disconnect where once they’re done training you don’t really see those members,” Pittaway says. “Due to the size we are, I still see these people at emergencies and weekly training. That’s the other side of it. There is no station one, two, three, or four. They’re all friends. They’re all the same. It’s great. That’s a side product of this recruitment class.”