Letters: Above and beyond

Shirley fire chief lauded for dedication and commitment

I am writing this letter to express my gratitude to Chief Donovan Ray of the Shirley Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD).  As wife of the captain, who has been on the SVFD for close to 10 years and Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department preceding that, I have seen the fire department go through some big changes over the last little while.

There was a time not long ago when there seemed to be nobody willing to fulfill the duties as chief, and hence there was some worry over the future existence of the SVFD.  Thankfully, competent Rob VanVeen stepped up to the task, but with over 20 years of volunteer service to the fire department, I believe he was hoping he could pass the torch on to someone young and keen.

I breathed an audible sigh of relief when Donovan joined the fire department.  It was immediately clear that Donovan was willing, determined, committed and qualified to lead the SVFD ahead.  His integrity in being physically, mentally and emotionally on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has soared above and beyond what is required.

I know from my husband that fire practises are intense and demanding… as are the calls that our volunteers are responding to.

When someone has stepped up to the plate for the safety of Shirley and its visitors, devoted unimaginable time to preparing, organizing and running weekly practises, handling administrative duties, organizing extra-training and made himself available 24/7 while still working full time and being a devoted partner, I believe they deserve heaps of support from the community.

I am a mother of two young children. We live an hour’s drive from the closest hospital and 20 minutes drive from the nearest ambulance. If there is an emergency, and time is of the essence, our survival is dependent upon the health and integrity of our SVFD.

In my time in Shirley, I have never felt as confident in the SVFD and its Chief Donovan, as I do today.  The level of devotion our chief has shown is truly inspiring and makes me feel confident as a mother that if an emergency were to arise, we would have some of the best responding to us, long before anyone else could get to our rural home.  As a proud Shirley resident and mother, I would like to say thank-you to Chief Donovan and I truly hope he will remain Shirley’s chief for many years to come.

Shirley resident and mother.

Amanda Swinimer-Burley

Shirley