From left Duane Bell, Fire Chief Brent Baker, Deputy Chief Billy McGinnis present Aaron Rodgers with Tofino’s Firefighter of the Year Award for 2018. (Photo - John Forde)

Tofino cheers volunteer firefighter of the year

Aaron Rodgers’ dedication heralded by his peers.

Aaron Rodgers is Tofino’s 2018 firefighter of the year.

The award is voted on by all 30 members of the Tofino Volunteer Fire Department and announced at the department’s annual Christmas party.

“It’s something that the entire department rallies around,” Tofino fire chief Brent Baker told the Westerly News. “It’s an emotional thing to find out you’ve been nominated by your peers as being one of the outstanding members for that year. It means a lot in a lot of different ways to every person that receives it.”

The award was launched in 1983—Jim McBride was the first recipient—and recognizes a member who shows exemplary dedication and camaraderie within the department.

“In general, it’s somebody who’s passionate, somebody who is here consistently, is committed, really hard working, demonstrating leadership and making efforts to move the department forward as a whole. And, that’s Aaron Rodgers in a nutshell,” Baker said. “He’s got an extremely high turnout percentage for calls. He’s very reliable, very capable, wants to learn more, wants to improve and he pushes himself and those around him to achieve greater things.”

Rodgers told the Westerly News he felt “humbled and honoured” that his fellow firefighters chose him for the honour.

“It means a lot to me that my peers saw fit to vote for me. I can’t express how much I appreciate that,” he said. “It’s obviously nice to get recognition from people you have a lot of respect for.”

Along with receiving a plaque and having his name placed on a larger plaque inside the fire hall that lists every member who’s ever received the award, Rodgers was also gifted with a unique knife made from a leaf spring taken from a decommissioned rescue van.

“It’s a spectacular piece of work so Aaron’s got a gift that will probably last forever,” Baker said.

Rodgers said he quickly put his prize to use.

“I’ve already started using it and I use it all the time,” he said.

“It’s a chef’s knife so I’ve been using it to make dinner for the family. It’s going to be a family heirloom. It’s going to get all nicked and worked through and greasy and awesome.”

Rodgers, a father of two who works in the district office as Tofino’s manager of community sustainability, celebrated his five-year anniversary with the fire department this year and said he is grateful to his family and employer for giving him the space to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I’ve been lucky in my life to have the opportunity that I’ve had and a lot of that has to do with moving to Tofino and being successful here,” he said. “Once my kids were old enough for me to get out of the house, [volunteering for the fire department] was one way I could start to give back to the community that’s given me and my family so much.”

READ MORE: Tofino honours volunteer firefighters with award

READ MORE: Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade basking in local support

READ MORE: Tofino and Ucluelet fire crews tackle blaze at historic Solwood property



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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