| Aug 16, 2007

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Feature Article - August 16, 2007

Thanks Billy:Tribute to a firefighter

by JeffGreen

When our houses catch fire, we call 911 and the trucks hustle over. The people who rush into our homes, against all human instincts, are not highly trained professional firefighters. They are highly trained volunteer firefighters. In times of crisis, our communities pull together in a way that city dwellers could never muster, all because of the enduring rural institution of volunteer fire departments.

This past Tuesday, Jeff Salmond was the first firefighter on the scene at a kitchen fire, and he led other members of the Kaladar/Barrie fire department in putting out the fire.

Two days earlier, Jeff’s father Bill had lost his life answering another call.


At Bill’s funeral service, which was held this past Saturday, Monte Kwinter, the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Corrections, and Patrick Burke, the Ontario Fire Marshall, brought condolences from the province. United Church Reverend Judith Evenden spoke movingly of a “palpable grief” that has permeated the communities along Highway 41 between Kaladar and Cloyne since Bill Salmond’s death.

Eulogies from 3 family members brought laughter and tears to the assembly, and Bill Salmond’s sense of humour, dedication to family and community, were well remembered.

After the service, hundreds of firefighters from across the province braved the sweltering heat to march behind Bill Salmond’s flag-draped coffin as it was carried on the back of a fire truck between the Maschke Funeral Home and the Northbrook fire hall.

Every successful volunteer fire department has someone like Bill Salmond on it. They’ve been there as long as anyone can remember. They seem to have trained everyone on the department, their commitment extends beyond themselves to their spouses and children, and they take a keen interest in the youngest members of the department.

The looks on the faces of the members of the department as they carried Bill Salmond’s coffin out of the Funeral home said it all. They were full of grief and shock, and from the oldest to the youngest members there was a feeling that they were wondering how they are going to carry on without the steady hand of Billy Salmond keeping the department focussed on the job at hand.

The enduring legacy of Bill Salmond will be forged by these people, who will indeed carry on, and the Salmond family, who all live in the area, will continue to be a fire fighting family.

Bill Salmond’s niece talked briefly about his battle with cancer about ten years ago, which he was lucky to survive. That extra ten years allowed him to enjoy the birth and youth of several grandchildren, and provided the children with memories they will carry with them.

There is no silver lining to the cloud of Bill Salmond’s passing. There is no joy in the passing of a volunteer firefighter, whether they have served for 1 year or 33 years.

Bill Salmond’s death reminds us how complete the dedication of volunteer firefighters is; they put their lives on the line solely to help the rest of us survive and thrive.

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