“I feel extremely safe today in this building,” Garry Nohr, chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), said on May 8 as volunteer firefighters from Egmont and fire chiefs from along the Coast assembled in the SCRD board room to mark a historic change in command.
The occasion was the retirement of Fire Chief Peter Sly, who was instrumental in establishing the Egmont and District Volunteer Fire Department between 2001 and 2004, and the appointment of assistant chief Kal Helyar as Sly’s replacement.
Nohr and Egmont/Pender Harbour director Frank Mauro presented Sly with the provincial Long Service Bar and best wishes from B.C. Fire Commissioner Gordon Anderson, as well as a plaque and gift certificate from the SCRD.
Sly was also honoured with the federal Fire Services Exemplary Service Award, although the medal had not arrived from Ottawa in time for the ceremony.
His retirement — which became official May 13 — marked the end of 46 years of continuous fire service, both on and off the Sunshine Coast, Mauro said in his tribute.
Speaking after the presentations at the urging of firefighters in attendance, Sly said he “sort of underestimated” the amount of time it would take to establish the Egmont department when he was asked to take on the job 14 years ago.
“I thought it would take about four or five years, and then I would turn it over to someone else. It took a lot longer than that,” he chuckled.
Sly also expressed his gratitude to the other fire departments on the Coast, without whose support, he said, “there never would have been an Egmont fire department,” and to Paul Fenwick, the SCRD’s manager of community services.
After the meeting, Fenwick noted that Egmont was an unprotected area before Sly was enlisted to make the fire department a reality.
“He was instrumental in planning it, scoping it out and getting the petition going in the community,” Fenwick said.
The fledgling department built its hall at 5592 Egmont Road and bought two pumper trucks from the U.S. that met provincial specs, while other departments on the Coast donated equipment, including a mini-pumper from Sechelt. The Pender Harbour department provided direct support with mutual aid and training, and the SCRD secured 9-1-1 fire paging for the volunteers.
During his presentation, Nohr said it was “fantastic” to have watched the Egmont department get up and running and to have attended the opening ceremonies.
“I’m sure that Peter and the rest of the volunteers from Egmont are pretty proud of their hall,” Nohr said.
After thanking everyone, a beaming Sly promised to “fade into the sunset.”
© Coast Reporter