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Errington Fire deputy chief recognized for 50 years of service

George Klemm joined the fire department when he was just 13 years old
Errington Volunteer Fire Department board chair Gerrard Bing and Deputy Chief George Klemm. (Submitted photo)

Deputy Chief George Klemm, a longstanding member of the Errington Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) was recently recognized for his 50 years of service to the department.

Guests and dignitaries packed the Bradley Centre in Coombs to pay tribute to him, according to a news release.

Fifty years of volunteering in the fire service is a rare milestone. Klemm joined the fire department when he was just 13 years old. He was so determined to follow his passion, he paid for his own insurance because he was too young to be covered by fire department coverage and according to Klemm, “my parents wouldn’t pay for it.”

He was also too young to ride in the fire truck but like most 13-year-olds, he had a bike and he used his two-wheeler to make it to calls. In some cases, he arrived before the fire engines because he knew all the short cuts and trail systems that wound through the rural community of Errington.

Gerrard Bing, EVFD board chair, restored the bike for Klemm’s 45th anniversary. According to Bing, the bike is the original version Klemm would ride to fire calls. He said the bike was a little rusty but had most of its original parts.

Finding a 50-year fire service pin also proved to be quite a challenge, as 50-year pins have not been produced for some time. Bing was able to find this rare vintage pin online and presented it to Klemm. The master of ceremonies for the event was Deputy Chief Kel Roberts, Ret’d, from the City of Coquitlam and former EVFD board director.

“I first met George during my tenure there about 35 years ago, when he was training our department on Holmatro Auto Ex Rescue Equipment,” Roberts said. “I became re-acquainted with George in 2006 when we moved to Errington, and I was asked to become an EVFD board director. It has been such a pleasure to work with him again.”

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He added that Klemm’s 50 years of service is a true testimony of his dedication to the community.

“You epitomize what giving service really means,” Roberts said. “Because it shows that you add something that cannot be bought or measured by money, and that is sincerity and integrity. You set the bar high when it comes to work ethic. Clearly your knowledge, skills and ability are a shining example of what makes an outstanding firefighter.”

The event included friends and family from far and wide, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Yukon, as well as mutual aid fire service partners from Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Dashwood, Coombs-Hilliers, Nanoose Bay and Bow Horn Bay.

Local politicians were also in attendance to pay tribute to Klemm. MLA for the Mid Island Pacific Rim, Josie Osborne, presented Klemm with a certificate of recognition from the premier. She added the tireless and selfless commitment of volunteers is appreciated by the province of B.C. and stated that “on behalf of B.C. we give many heartfelt thanks for your many years of service.”

Leanne Salter, Area F Director for the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) thanked Klemm for his unwavering commitment to the EVFD.

“Your five decades of volunteering with the Errington Fire Department speaks volumes about your strength and character. We, the residents of Errington are profoundly grateful for your innate spirit of giving,” she said, and added, “our community thrives because of dedicated volunteers like you who tirelessly work for the well-being of neighbours and friends.”

Klemm helped spearhead the EVFD’s superior tanker shuttle service (STSS). Errington Fire Rescue was one of only a handful of departments west of Ontario that had at that time achieved accreditation from the Fire Underwriters Surveyor of British Columbia for delivery of STSS for residential homes.

On behalf of the RDN, Salter presented Klemm with an award as a token of Area F residents’ thanks, especially the Errington community.

Also in attendance from the RDN were CAO Douglas Holmes and manager of emergency services, Erica Beauchamp, as well as Brad McDonald, fire services advisor (Vancouver Island North) of the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

Roberts read a letter of congratulations from MP Gord Johns of the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

A highlight of the event was the presentation to Klemm of a new sign for EVFD’s Station No. 2. It was commissioned by the firefighters and the board of directors and was made with cedar milled locally.

Klemm thanked his wife Teresa and his family and friends who have been supporting him in his firefighting career.

He said through the highs and the lows it has been a rewarding career.

“The EVFD is awesome and we will continue to do good things,” Klemm said. “It is amazing and I can always try for 60.” — NEWS Staff, submitted

About the Author: Parksville Qualicum Beach News Staff

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