A longtime volunteer firefighter who helped establish the Canim Lake department more than 20 years ago is hanging up his gear.
Ron Lister was presented with his retirement bar and service award Oct. 19 at the Forest Grove fire hall, after close to three decades of volunteering in fire protection.
“It was just time, it had been quite a while,” Lister said of his decision to step away from the department.
Lister became involved with the local fire service in 1993 when he relocated to the South Cariboo from the Lower Mainland. Over the next few years, he worked with others in the community to get the Canim Lake Volunteer Fire Department off the ground – the department was officially launched in 1997.
“We had an old Chevy one-tonne pickup truck with a 400-gallon water tank and Honda pumps,” Lister recalled of the early days in the department. “It started with that, but we worked together to get up to the standards of the regional district fire departments.”
In 2008, Lister was involved in negotiations to amalgamate the Canim Lake department with the existing Forest Grove VFD, something he describes as a “great accomplishment,” which continues to benefit both communities.
One of his fondest memories with the department was the crew’s involvement with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, where he and other volunteers were posted near the ski jump venue in the Callaghan Valley for seven days.
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“They didn’t have any halls nearby so they put up a couple of tents for us to park our trucks under, right up in the valley,” Lister recalled. “We could watch the ski jumps from our little office there.”
While presenting Lister with his award last week, Forest Grove fire Chief Shannon Wagner spoke to the level of dedication and commitment he has shown to the departments over the years.
“He never refused a callout, no matter the time of day or conditions,” she said.
Lister will have plenty to keep him busy in light of his retirement from the VFD as he is also a member of the Forest Grove Lions Club and volunteers at the community hall and legion.
He said volunteering his time in the community has been a priority since he moved here almost 30 years ago.
“You don’t really know anybody and you don’t know how things work, so it’s kind of nice to get out there with some of the people and really get to know your community,” he said.
Despite the accolades from fellow VFD members at his retirement ceremony last week, Lister insists that his accomplishments were part of a team effort.
“It’s not just one person, it’s a group of people who have worked hard to get things done,” he said.