Firefighter recognized for 55 years of service

Ray Trahan/ CK Fire & Emergency Services

A local firefighter is getting recognition for a career that spans over half a century.

Ray Trahan is the captain at Fire Station 4 in Dover, where he has worked as an on-call firefighter since 1963. This month, he was presented with a long service bar by the Ontario Fire Marshal for his 55 years of duty.

Now 75 years old, Trahan said he’s seen many changes since he first started on the job, most notably the gear that firefighters are required to wear.  He explained that at first, they wore high boots and simple long coats, a stark difference from the reflective and fire-retardant bunker gear they wear today.

“The whole safety aspect of it has improved 100 per cent,” said Trahan. “The firefighters today are much more safety conscious and the gear that they have to wear now, it’s way better than when I started. They’re always coming up with something new every six months.”

Trahan also said he’s noticed a decrease in how common house fires have become, something he attributes to the development of better smoke detectors. For him, that’s welcome news.

“The worst fire I hate to go to is a house fire because you know there’s going to be damage and it’s a no-win situation,” Trahan explained. “If it’s a total loss, people have lost memorabilia, treasures that they’ll never be able to recover. It’s one of those fires that you don’t really feel gratified because you couldn’t save it and it was beyond your control to save it. That’s one of the heartbreaks.”

Trahan carries a pager on him at all times that alerts him if he’s needed at an emergency scene and his son is the deputy chief at the same station. Trahan said the job is still as fulfilling to him now as it was on day one and getting to help people is what motivates him to keep going.

“I find it a rewarding job,” he said. “It’s one of those where people are dependent on you and when you can help them out, that’s the reward.”

For anyone interested in a career in firefighting, Trahan recommends going to post-secondary school for a fire safety program and then trying to get in as a volunteer firefighter. As for having a career as long as his? Trahan said regardless of the industry, if you find a job that you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like work.

“It’s dedication,” he said. “If you’re not dedicated to do it then you shouldn’t be in it.”