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Honouring over a century of service to the PFD

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Honouring over a century of service to the PFD

PRESCOTT - Volunteers with the Prescott Fire Department are always at the ready to protect the community, but at a meeting of town council Monday night, a few members of the department were singled out for having spent a large part of their adult life in service of their neighbours.

The gallery in the council chambers was overflowing with not only the families of those being honoured but as well with many of their colleagues from the Prescott Fire Department. Against the backdrop of a recent decision by council to build a new fire hall in Prescott, Mayor Brett Todd pointed out that as important as the building may be, it's the firefighters and their support staff that make the department a source of security and pride for local residents.

"What's really important are the individuals, the people, the commitment," said Todd. "That's more important than bricks and mortar."

The four firefighters honoured Monday night epitomize commitment. All told, the four men represent more than a century of service to the Town of Prescott, service performed at the expense of their time and energy, often at significant risk to life and limb, and for no pay.

Chief Barry Moorhouse was recognized for 20 years of service, having joined the department in 1996 as a firefighter and rising to the rank of captain before being named chief in 2011. George Prosser joined the department in 1989, after more than two years with the Brockville Fire Department. He was recognized for 30 years of service in Prescott.

Also recognized Monday night were two members each with 35 years of service in the Prescott Fire Department. Maurice Raas joined the company in 1981. He served as one of several fire captains and for a time as deputy fire chief. He has also spent many years as one of the department's key instructors, helping to train the town's firefighters for any situation they might encounter.

Like Raas, Brent Norton has also spent the last 35 years answering the call from local residents in trouble or danger. He, too, joined the department in 1981, rising to the rank of captain and eventually becoming a fire prevention officer. Today, he is the department's fire prevention chief.

The mayor and deputy fire chief Robert Gilmour presented each of the four men a certificate acknowledging their many years of selfless service, as well as a certificate of appreciation from the Town of Prescott. The two 35-year veterans also received special commendations from the offices of MP Gord Brown and MPP Steve Clark. Councilors and all those gathered in the gallery then gave the four firefighters a standing ovation.

After the firefighters left the council chambers, the regular meeting proceeded as usual. There was yet more to say, though, about the fire department as talk turned to the matter of emergency preparedness, and particularly an accident last month in which a truck carrying hazardous materials went off the road near Mallorytown.

"The first responders to that scene were volunteer fire fighters," said Councilor Ray Young, who remarked that such incidents are a valuable reminder of the importance of the fire department and of those who choose to join a volunteer fire company.

"It takes special people to do that job."

Councilor Lee McConnell also pointed out that Prescott's firefighters - including the four honoured Monday night - protect not only residents of Prescott but are often called upon to help out in neighbouring municipalities and respond to a great many calls outside of town.

"I'm sure councils in Augusta Township and Edwardsburgh-Cardinal would join with us in thanking them for their service," said McConnell.

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