Firefighting seems to flow in the veins of the Shirley family.
A memorial bench celebrating former Salmon Arm Fire Chief Pat Shirley’s contributions to the department’s excellent reputation now sits outside Salmon Arm’s Fire Hall No. 3 located downtown.
Interest in setting up a memorial for Shirley was expressed shortly after his death by the Salmon Arm Firefighters’ Association and his family, who remain dedicated to the department today.
Brad Shirley, Pat’s son and the current chief of the Salmon Arm Fire Department, had the idea for the bench after seeing similar ones set up by fellow firefighters in Kelowna.
The initial plan was to set up the bench at R.J. Haney Heritage Village.
Pat had been involved with building the village’s fire hall exhibit and, as a member of a local vintage car club, he also helped put together its garage.
Brad said his father’s 1929 Plymouth is still displayed in the garage.
A spot for the bench at Haney was not approved but with help from city staff and the unanimous approval of council, it was placed at Hall #3.
Firefighting is an important part of the Shirley family’s identity.
Brad’s grandfather George was a charter member of the Salmon Arm Fire Brigade in the early 1900s.
Pat dedicated more than 40 years to the department.
Brad and his brothers Jim and Greg all have decades of experience as firefighters as well.
Brad has been the chief for 12 years.
“It was just something that we always had an interest in,” Shirley said of he and his brothers’ path to joining the fire service.
He recalls hanging around the fire hall, where he now works in the chief’s office, when he was a kid.
Equipment and labour for the bench were donated by several people and local businesses to put up the memorial.
The bench is made of polished grey stone and the arms anchoring it to the ground are in the shape of the Salmon Arm Fire Department’s Maltese cross logo.
It is further decorated with the words “In memory of Chief Pat Shirley.”
Brad said the Shirley family is grateful for all of those who donated time and expertise to get the bench in place.
“Dad would be proud,” he said.