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#6 - Don Quixote

In the intervening years, at the ripe age of 62, father had initiated, with a small band of intrepid members, the Sunshine Valley Fire Department, acts of service being natural to their being and constitution. The Fire Chief was his neighbour, and my father held the illustrious title of “Education Officer.” A third member rounded out the locals, the remainder being part-time members who lived elsewhere. 

On a training run to Park Hill they set out to climb the vertiginous road leading up Park Hill, laden with the weight of their newly acquired 500 gallon pump truck (one gallon weighing 11 pounds, thus 5,500 pounds). The hill’s natural defences proved impervious to their attack, the struggling vehicle stalling mid way and, slipping out of gear, began its slide back toward Meadow. Gaining speed as it rolled back, my father and the Chief, who were standing on running boards, jumped off on the steep incline while the vehicle shot back to crash into the telegraph shack. The men, calling it a day, retired to debrief with a round of drinks. 

Within a month, our intrepid firefighters where awakened at midnight by a live call for help. In the dark of night they set out on their mission, to a home in Meadow with a chimney fire. Entering the home, the intrepid trio could see fire blazing through gaps in the mortar of the chimney. Rescuing the three children from danger, the Chief gallantly climbed the rooftop with hose to send a salvo of water down the chimney. This of course led to a backfire blast of superheated steam which blackened and burned his face. The other member of our intrepid trio had his telescoping ladder collapse and skinned his hands, while the third, my father, braved cuts and lacerations from the mature blackberry bushes which surrounded the home. Ultimately they prevailed in putting out the fire to save the day. 

Part Keystone Cops, part Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Knights-errant in rusted gear, the Intrepid Trio sallied forth on noble missions of chivalrous duty led by their courageous hearts. Behind them, my mother and others of the Women’s Auxiliary (with all its WWII connotations), conducted bake sales and organized grant applications to raise funds. 

Don Quixote, lance in hand, and Sancho Panza astride his donkey, smile at them all from beyond the pale.


Fortunate for the current residents, the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department now boasts a large team of professionally trained and equipped men who serve with distinction as first responders to fire and medical emergencies throughout the area.  

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