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Naramata Fire Department celebrates 60 years

Sixty years ago a few men decided to make their tiny community a safer place to live and formed what is now Naramata Fire Rescue.
Chief Tony Trovao (left) of Naramata Fire Rescue with crew members Dan Mercier (centre) and John Fleishman at the fire hall this week. The department is celebrating its 60th anniversary June 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sixty years ago a few men decided to make their tiny community a safer place to live and formed what is now Naramata Fire Rescue.

From its’ humble, single-truck beginnings and a crew of dedicated volunteers with little or no training, the department now responds to almost any emergency from fires to first medical response and marine rescue.

However as much as the department has grown in resources and manpower, since taking over as chief in 2013,Tony Trovao has urged his firefighters to go back to their roots when it comes to community service.

“We’ve changed the mindset here we’re looking at the old customer satisfaction aspect of it doing the extras because people around them (victims) are going through it too,” said Trovao who, after nearly two decades is the longest serving member.

“I tell them (crews) that every call we go to, we treat them like our family.”

On Saturday, June 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the community will have an opportunity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the department with a special open house.

Trovao remembers hearing one story about the first fire truck not being good at climbing hills so the volunteers would leave it parked on a hillside in somebody’s orchard.

“That’s where it stayed until they needed it and everyone knew where the keys were and away they’d go,” he said. “So they would be going downhill to the fire and there wouldn’t be as much of a rush getting back.”

Naramata Fire Rescue is now what the chief describes as a “full-service” department much like the larger urban stations.

Apparatus include an engine, a tender, a mini pumper, a 21-foot rescue boat, 4 X 4 medical unit and two pickup trucks.

There are also possible plans to expand service to the area known as Indian Rock which is nine kilometres north of Naramata.

“We’ve just got an amazing group of people who by their very nature just want to help people. They also have a passion for the firefighting bit of it, so we have a good mix,” said Trovao.

“Like the Plexus fire, as soon we got back to the hall we had someone grab one of our fire boots a said let’s donate some money and we came up with a pretty nice figure. When you’ve just spent nine hours at a fire scene and you have a kitty started with a couple hundreds bucks in it right off he bat that’s petty good.

“So with the 60-year anniversary we’re acknowledging the people who started this and we’re maintaining what’s here and we’re trying to make it better and we’re trying to move it forward for the next few generations.”