With more than 100 years of combined experienced between them, three long-time firefighters will certainly be missed by their colleagues at the Floradale fire station.
Oscar Clemmer, Delford Martin and Cecil Martin are all being recognized on Jan. 28 for their work in the community, responding to calls with the Floradale crew. The three firefighters are retiring, and department chief Dennis Frey says it is no easy task to make up for the lost experience and camaraderie the three men brought to the table.
“All those years of experience that you get, you just can’t go out and replace. Doesn’t matter how much you read a textbook, how many practices you do, how many pre-service programs you go through, it is still that real life experience that teaches you things,” he said.
The more experienced firefighters set an example – they’re the ones to follow, Frey added.
“The older you get, the more calm and collected they are while responding to calls. You get your young guys who are ready, and hyper and want to drive fast, rush through stuff, so we will be losing the calmness, the stability. To replace that, we can only do that through experience,” said Frey. “We will miss those older guys setting the example, saying, ‘we are just going to take a deep breath, okay now, let’s go.’ Instead of go, go, go. Just that tone they set. We call it situational awareness. When you are burning a five-foot flame out the back end, you don’t see that stuff.”
Oscar Clemmer was with the Floradale station for 45 years, the longest serving of the three retirees. He says there was never a dull day while on call.
“It was 45 years of interesting experiences. I learned a lot, and we did a lot of good deeds in the community. That was the goal. All of the calls were situations that someone needed help with,” he said. “If someone had a problem, you are responsible for looking after them. All people in our line of work understand that. That is the goal – help the community in a disaster situation. It was an interesting career, that’s for sure. I just wanted to do my part.”
Clemmer doesn’t have any concrete plans for his retirement, but he says he plans to slow things down.
“I am just going to be taking it easy,” he said. “I have been there, done that.”
Delford Martin was a member of the department for more than 38 years, responding to more than a few memorable calls.
“I was going through my photo album while making one for myself, and there was some that were very interesting, and some that I don’t mind forgetting,” he shared. “As far as barn fires, there were a number of them, but not in the last couple of years. We went to one in the heat of the summer. It was extremely hot out, and we had to cool ourselves off in the porto tank – the big supply tank outside of the pumper truck. We jumped right in there and went for a swim.”
He recalled another incident that was a close call for him. He was fighting a barn fire for too long, and ended up needing an oxygen mask to breath normally again.
“There aren’t too many of those barn fires anymore. I hope that it is because people are being safe out there,” he said.
Now that his nearly 40 years at the fire department are behind him, Martin says he still isn’t going to be slowing down.
“I think the kids and the grandkids will be taking up all of my time. I have six grandchildren that I love and I will enjoy working with them. That will take up most of my time, for sure. I won’t be sitting back and do nothing,” he said with a laugh.
For Cecil Martin, the job was all about helping people and the friendship created between
“It was a good bunch of fellas to have around if we had a rough one. We could all sit around and chat and they were just such a great group to work with,” he said. “You have to have that kind of relationship, to stick it out that long, and to be able to trust each other. They have got your back, and you have to be comfortable about that.”