Hemlock Fire Department says goodbye to their chief. (Unsplash)

LETTER: Thank you to Hemlock Fire Department chief

The members of the volunteer fire department say thank you and goodbye to their fire chief

The chief of the Hemlock Valley Volunteer Fire Department is retiring. After more than 25 years of carrying a pager or radio, leaving home in all hours of the day and night, and endless hours of training, Chief Marty McKinney has decided to step down.

We know he’s not going to quit because the volunteer fire service is in his blood; it’s just time to take a step back and help the next generation take the lead.

For those of us who have had the opportunity to serve on Marty’s crew we learned to respect and admire “the boss.” His first priority has always been the safety of the public, the support team and his engine companies; his second priority was that we would be fully trained and ready to take on any challenge that may come our way.

We can’t speak for the other fire halls in the Fraser Valley Regional District, but we have come to know many of their members over the years. We know that their motivation to spend evenings and weekends training and preparing, and why they don’t mind responding any time of day or night is simple: like us, they “just want to help.” Chief McKinney is a walking example of that attitude.

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It would be impossible to say enough about the contribution partners make to the volunteer fire service. Doris McKinney, there are no words to describe the true value of your contribution to Hemlock Fire and our community over the years. When the volunteer men and women are called, they don’t hesitate, they simply go. Their partner is left at home with a special dinner half eaten, a chore unfinished, or small children woken up in the middle of the night. An hour or maybe days later, life goes back to normal — until next time.

The last thing that the volunteers are looking for is a pat on the back. But after being on the fire line with Chief McKinney, watching him force other members to take a rest before he took his turn and seeing his concern for members who had to attend a call with a fatality, well … here’s a little recognition boss.

Marty McKinney, Doris McKinney, it seems so inadequate, but all we can do is say “THANK YOU!” And Chief, even though you are taking on a new role, we look forward to your continued leadership and the generous way you have always shared your knowledge and time with us.

See you at the hall,

The members of Hemlock Fire

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