Espanola community honours its firefighters

By Rosalind Russell – There were some tears, plenty of hugs and lots of laughter to celebrate five decades of dedication at the Espanola Volunteer Firefighters Association Awards Night.

Held Friday night at the Espanola Legion, the awards were an opportunity to say thank you to Wayne Ashton, who’s retiring holding the rank of Assistant Chief with the association.

Ashton recalled how in the late winter of 1972, he elected to help a friend and firefighter, Jim Ramsay and ended up helping with a call to a fatal fire. 

Later that year, he says he started his career with the local fire department, has supported five chiefs during their tenure and witnessed many tragic deaths and situations, but also worked with some of the most dedicated, goal driven and honourable men and women he ever met.

His words of praise were greeted with emotion by the members in attendance who acknowledged his 50 years of dedication to the department.

Dedicating oneself to a worthy cause takes work, focus and sacrifice, and all those attributes were acknowledged at the 2022 Espanola Volunteers Firefighters Association Awards Night Friday evening.

Members of the association, family members and supporters gathered to pay tribute to those who have served over the years.

Recipients of five-year pins include Rob McKechnie, Jeff Elliot and Joel Marion (absent Dave Gunson); ten years of service pins to Lannie Piche and Derek Lalonde (absent Wesley MacDonald); for 15 years – Fred Gagnon, for 20 years Captain Jamie Ramsay and for 25 years of service, Rheal Lachance and Lieutenant Andre Therrien Junior.

Captain Terrance Smith also received accolades for 30 years of service and Assistant Chief Wayne Ashton was applauded for his 50 years of service having retired on September 17th.

Special pins were also presented to Therrien’s daughter Rhawnie and Lachance’s wife, Mona, for their support of and as family members.

Fire Chief Mike Pichor was joined by staff, Town CAO and Treasurer, Allan Hewitt, MPP Mike Mantha and MP Carol Hughes in presenting the various awards.

Photos: Friday evening was a night filled with laughter, hugs and lots of applause as the Espanola Volunteer Firefighters Association celebrated its years of service and the retirement of long-time firefighter Wayne Ashton. Photos and videos by Rosalind Russell

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