It was a moment to honour a lifetime. Wednesday night at the Town of Bracebridge Council meeting Mayor Graydon Smith presented Fire Chief Murray Medley with a plaque from the province commemorating 40 years of fire service.
It has been a busy year for the town’s top fireman. Just last week there was an official grand opening of the new Taylor Road Paramedic and Firehall. That was preceded by actually moving from the old station to the new station late last year.
“I was fortunate to get started at this at a young age,” the 65-year-old Medley says.
Medley reflects on the career he has had and how it all started and admits, the change in the job is massive over the decades.
“Enormously (different) over the last forty years,” he agrees. “I was encouraged by my wife to … apply to be a volunteer. I honestly thought ‘I have lived here my whole life, it would be a good way to give back a bit’ and so I joined up. ”
“It was just a small force at the time,” he recalls. “I think there were 23 volunteers.”
Compare that to the 47 volunteers and two full-time staff under his command now in two halls and it is easy to understand why the town needed to move into a new fire hall.
The new $7.4 million dual use paramedic station and firehall is allowing his crews to train properly, take care of equipment and be better prepared overall.
“It’s fantastic, such a change from where we were before,” he admits. “We’ve got not only room to breath, but room to grow.”
Aside from better training facilities, a gym, and technical equipment, one upgrade is being enjoyed by the rank and file. The new kitchen.
“Now that we have a nice new kitchen to work out of, (our cooking is going to improve.), he says with a laugh. “But there was always a good bunch of cooks around here.”
While he doesn’t have the numbers to prove it, Medley does think there were more fires when he was a young firefighter.
“That is just down to how houses were built back then I think,” he says.
When he gets on site at a fire he admits the juices still get flowing, but he relies on his well-trained volunteers to do the hot work.
“You still get that urge,” he admits. “If you don’t have that urge I don’t think you should be here.
“It is my job to stand back and let them do their job.”