Salmon Arm firefighters in general and one unique firefighter in particular will be honoured with a bench to be placed in Hall No. 3, the city’s downtown fire hall.
Jim Shirley recently wrote to city council, explaining his family would like to honour their late father Pat Shirley who spent more than 40 years with the Salmon Arm Fire Department.
The family has purchased a granite bench which they asked to install in the southeast corner of the fire hall. The letter said the family would provide a concrete base and has met with Darin Gerow, the city’s manager of roads and parks.
“Although there is currently a bench in close proximity to the requested location, Mr. Gerow indicates his staff could easily remove and relocate it to another location in town.”
The bench will have the Salmon Arm Fire Department emblem on the end sections and ‘In memory of Chief Officer Pat Shirley’ on the back.
Asked about his family’s fire department history, current chief Brad Shirley explains that his grandfather, his dad’s dad George, was one of the charter members of the Salmon Arm Fire Department. In fact, he was recording secretary for its first meeting on Dec. 13, 1913.
In the minutes of that first meeting, firefighters were being paid $1 per call and a fire bell was to be purchased to notify members when there was a fire.
“When Dad was overseas, his dad passed away so when he came back he joined the fire department,” says Brad of his father Pat.
Brad’s brother Jim has been a firefighter for more than 40 years and his brother Greg, now retired, was with the department for 20 years. Brad has been on the fire department for 37 years, nearly 12 years as chief.
Why the family commitment to the fire department?
Brad laughs and says a psychologist would be needed to figure that one out.
“I don’t know, it’s just something my dad had a huge passion for. Myself, as a kid, I loved hanging out with him at the fire station when I could. When you start getting a little older and start thinking about a career, there was no question what I wanted to do.”
His brothers, too, share a passion for it.
City council endorsed the installation of the memorial bench.
“I think we all know the value the Shirley family has brought to our firefighting community,” Coun. Chad Eliason said.
Coun. Kevin Flynn added his support.
“It’s not just about the Shirley family, but firefighters asking for support for someone who led them. It shows how much we value our volunteers.”