Kennedy, Fred

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                                          FRED KENNEDY
                                 Fire Chief only as good as men
                                         By Margery MacRae

BLACKVILLE – Any Fire Chief is only as good as the men under him, says Fred Kennedy. Kennedy , who has been Blackville`s Fire Chief for 13 years, was referring to the 25 men who are members of the volunteer fire department which has operated since March 21, 1968.

In addition to Kennedy, four other men who were charter members in 1968 remain active today, Tom Brennan, Winston Curtis, Al Donahue and Lewis Donahue.

“We responded to 56 calls in 1990 and these included 20 dump fires and 15 village fires, with the remainder being calls outside the village limits”, he said.

Kennedy said the number of responses has been decreasing in recent years, a fact which he attributes to programs presented in schools by the Fire Marshal’s office during Fire Prevention Week. “Sad to say, this program was done away with during the past year due to government cutbacks,” the chief said. However, he said the Miramichi Valley Firefighters Association submitted a resolution protesting the loss of this program.

Kennedy said he was told material would be sent to all provincial departments and it would be up to each department to present its programs. “This is something which would be quite difficult for volunteer departments to carry out due to the fact that most men are working during the day and would have to take time off to visit the schools.” Because of the obvious success of the program, his brigade intends to include it in 1991 plans.

Also included in the 1991 plans of the Blackville fire department is a smoke alarm survey. ”We did a little bit in the fall under the supervision of the Fire Marshal’s office and the N.B. Fire Chief’s Association,” Kennedy said. “Our objective is to make the public aware of the proper use, care and management of smoke alarms in the home. We went to our local TV channel with our advertising campaign and we ran a video for two weeks to make people aware, telling them they could contact us for further information, but we did not receive any calls.

“However, when good weather comes, we intend to lodge another campaign where we will be available to speak to groups and show a video. I would like to say that people are free to contact any members of our department to have their alarm tested, inspected or to tell them if they have it in the right location. A lot of people just press the button, but it should really have a candle test.

Kennedy said following an introductory training course many firefighters continue with more advanced weekend courses given in Community College. “Last year, we had five of our men successfully pass Level 1, a course taught in Newcastle by a representative of the N.B. Fire Department. This means 13 men have received Level 1 training, which involves about 65 hours of training and includes a standard first aid course as well as a C.P.R. Also in 1990 we had six men take a fire attack course at the community college in Chatham. This was a two-day course,” he added.

Kennedy said during training sessions at the fire hall all equipment is taken out and checked. Training sessions are held during certain times of the year. Beginning in March the men train regularly until June and then again during the fall. ‘We meet every Thursday evening during training periods when every man is made familiar with all our equipment and how to operate it. Training is something you must keep up with,” he said.

Firefighter Fenton Sturgeon agreed with Chief Kennedy. “You have to enjoy this work, especially when you get out of bed at 3 a.m. on a cold morning. But it gives you a nice feeling that you’ve helped someone out and that you’ve done a good job,” said Sturgeon. “Perhaps you meet someone that next day who compliments you on the good job you’ve done. This makes it all worthwhile.”

Kennedy mentioned a complimentary letter he received form a local minister and his congregation at Christmas time. “We don’t receive something like his very often,” he said.

                                Fred Kennedy one of first to join

Fire Chief Fred Kennedy says he always wanted to be a member of the fire department and was one of the first to join. The village’s fire department was formed in 1968. “I really like it and wanted to get involved. Training was available and there was knowledge to acquire,” he said.

When a member resigns, an advertisement is placed in local newspapers for applicants and if more than one reply is received the members vote on it. The new member is accepted on a six-month trial basis.

“All members are required to attend training sessions and fires when available,” the chief said. “Our department is second to none as far as I’m concerned. I rely on the guys and I give them the credit, they’re qualified. There are times that you feel things are falling apart, but then they turn around for the better.

“As far as our response time goes, it is very good and right up there with the rest of them.”

Kennedy said each firefighter carries a pager at all times, but it wasn’t always that way. “Back then there were two ‘fire’ telephones in the village, one in the home of Georgina Curtis and the other at Cecil White’s. “When the fire department was needed, one of these people would sound the alarm (a horn on top of the fire hall) which, by the way, is still there. We have no problem with this system.”

Kennedy said he appreciates being able to visit many countries to attend world conventions which came about as a result of his being MVFA president and past president of the NB Fire Chiefs Association. Some of the countries in which he attended world federation meetings are England, Japan, China, Chile, Italy and the United States.

“When he returns he brings us knowledge from other world departments,” said Sturgeon, one of the younger members of the department.

All department members belong to the Firemen’s Club, which is separate from the fire department. It has a different set of officers and a different constitution, Kennedy said. It is through this club that funds are raised for various village projects. “We recently decided to donate $1,000 to the Life Line Committee to help purchase a unit,” he said.

The chief said he appreciates the support given to the department in the past year by people in the village and the surrounding area.

Source: Miramichi Leader Weekend - February 1, 1991

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