Always on the lookout for talent

Putting out the fire

Chief Gerry Woodhouse Retires from Fire Department after 33 years

Chief Gerry Woodhouse (“Woody”) has retired from the fire service after 33 years, the last 20 as Fire Chief of Company #1 in Rossland.

Woody recently shared some of his memories of the fire service, and what it was like when he started.  “It was overwhelming, the same time I started as Chief, I also started a new business.”

He continues, “I remember my first structure fire on Cook Avenue and I went in with Fire Fighter Vince Profili. Unfortunately, the building was a total loss”.

The first structure fire Woody attended as Chief was in a newer house in Upper Rossland. It started as a chimney fire and escalated into a full-on structure fire.  “The house was lost.  It’s really hard, as a lot of times you blank them out,” Woody remembers.

The school fire in the gym at RSS happened when Woody was still a fire fighter. “A 12” solid iron beam was twisted by the heat like a pretzel.  That fire was started by a gym mat put against a light bulb,” he remembers.

Woody misses the community involvement and the volunteering, but he is very proud of the fundraising efforts which were huge morale builders.  It helped get the department out into the community and raise the department’s profile.  Woody remembers many of the mentors he had, Oli Dorati, Butch, Bob Flegel; the list goes on.

He also found working with the Fire Commissioner’s office to be particularly interesting work, determining what actually happened.   Woody is proud of the number of fire fighters he worked with who ended up taking this job as a career. “It was used as a stepping stone.  It’s the best place to start,” he said.

Regional Chief Terry Martin was also interviewed for this story.  “Gerry and I were friends throughout high school and he was my best man when I got married.  My dad was the fire chief back then and as I grew up I knew I wanted to be a firefighter and so did Gerry.” Martin stated.

In the mid to late 70’s and early 80’s; there happened to be quite a few very large fires including The White Wolfe Hotel, Allan Hotel, Rossland Miner, Maclean School, Masonic Hall and the Anglican Church.  All these drove them both to want to be part of the fire service.

Martin goes on to say, “The other thing people need to know about Gerry is his involvement with the Christmas Hampers.  Again, we (the fire service) have helped in the organization and delivery of the hampers since 1981.  Gerry was a truly dedicated member of the fire service and put in 33 years to help his community.  You don’t really see that length of service anymore.”

Rossland Chief Larry Simm adds: “Woody was a great Chief.  He was definitely strict and he liked his own way, but he was always very good to his firefighters.  He looked after them, and always made sure they were okay.  That’s a big thing.”

Although Woody does have regrets about missing out on  time with his kids as a result of being called out, (“That’s the only thing I don’t miss!”)  he hopes to be remembered by his commitment to the community and his help in making it a better place.  “I hope I did that,” he said.

Woody still hears sirens, even at his cabin in the woods.

 

Just Posted

Rossland council agrees to finish skateboard park

Will cost taxpayers about $30,000 to complete project

Core funding to boost spending on tourism services for Rossland

Resort Municipalities grants will pay for a public washroom, better signage, and shuttle services

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Third cannabis store in Greater Trail opens next week

The City of Trail has had six applications from non-medical pot retailers to date

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read