I am writing this letter on behalf of the Tumbler Ridge Firefighters in response to a letter to the editor which appeared in the July 7th edition of the Tumbler Ridge News. The author of the letter was apparently upset that the fireworks display was held on the night of June 30th rather than on the night of July 1st. As well, she felt that she and others were owed an apology for the ?unpatriotic and unjustified decision? to have the fireworks on June 30th. I would first like to say that if anyone is expecting this to be a letter of apology, then they should stop reading now, as no apology is forthcoming.
With regards to the date of the fireworks, those of us who give up our time to organize, set up, set off and clean up the fireworks have always done so because we felt that the effort was appreciated by the residents of Tumbler Ridge. (I continue to believe that the majority of the residents appreciate the fireworks as the only other complaint this year that I am aware of was from someone who wanted the fireworks display to be during the day rather than at night so the noise wouldn?t wake up people). We usually start setting up the fireworks at around 5 pm and do not finish cleaning up until about 1 am. This does not include the additional time that some members put in the following day cleaning up the remaining debris or the time that members spend attending training sessions so that we can legally present a fireworks display.
I do not think that it is fair to expect our members to work until 1 am, and probably not get to sleep until 2 am on July 1st, and then have to get up and go to work the next day when it doesn?t have to be that way. Of course we ?could? do it, and I don?t think anyone knows more about short nights than volunteer/on-call firefighters, but the fact remains that there is no reason the fireworks display cannot take place on June 30th – it is the same display. In addition to this, if the fireworks display was to be on July 1st, any of our members who wished to go out of town on Canada Day would have their day cut short as they would have to be back in town before 5:00.
As members of the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department, we are under no obligation to spend time working on a fireworks display. We have every right to spend June 30th or Canada Day (or any other day) as we see fit, just like all other Canadians. I would suggest that if anyone feels this strongly about the date of the fireworks, then they should work towards making alternate arrangements for a fireworks display which do not involve the fire department. I also do not consider the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department to be a ?special interest group.? Our only ?special interest? in this community is providing fire and rescue services to the people of Tumbler Ridge.
I found the comment that characterized the decision to have the fireworks on June 30th as being ?unpatriotic? to be extremely offensive. I am a proud Canadian and I think that this is true of all members of our department. I am equally proud to be a member of the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department, and we proudly display Canadian flags both inside and outside our fire hall. Since its inception, the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department has responded to approximately 1500 emergency calls (totaling more than 13,000 duty hours) which come at all times of the night and day, including Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day and every other day of the year. While many of the calls are not serious, there have been a number of calls where members of the fire department have prevented the destruction of people?s homes and have literally saved the lives of others. We do not do this for the nominal compensation we receive, or for recognition, but rather as a service to our community. I think that service such as this embodies what it means to be a Canadian. If anyone?s pride in being Canadian can be damaged because of the timing of a fireworks display, then I think that person needs to question their patriotism, not mine.
By having the fireworks on June 30th, it was never the intention of the fire department to appear unpatriotic, ruin anyone?s Canada Day or make small children cry. Our intention was to provide a quality fireworks display, while at the same time allowing our members the freedom to enjoy all of Canada Day with their friends and family. I think that we can all be proud Canadians regardless of what day the fireworks are on.
Deputy Fire Chief
Tumbler Ridge Fire Department
P.S. As someone who grew up in an ethnic-German home, I celebrated Christmas on December 24th every year, and I do not feel that it was any less meaningful than the celebrations that took place on December 25th, nor did I judge those who chose to celebrate on a different day than I did.