Sep 3, 2012 / 5:00 am
A 36 year veteran of the Vernon Fire-Rescue Service took his "last ride" last week.
Wayne Little, Captain of Vernon Fire Rescue C Shift, formally retired on Tuesday, August 28.
He took what's known as his "last ride” when his shift drove him home at 8 o'clock that morning.
Little practically grew up at the old fire hall downtown across from Cenotaph Park.
"I was there quite a bit because my dad and uncle worked there," he says.
Little's uncle, Fred Little was Fire Chief from 1939 to 1970 and his father, Ken Little was Fire Chief from 1970 to 1980.
He started as a volunteer, and after three and a half years, became a full-time fireman on January 8, 1980.
With so many years of service come so many memories from over the years.
"The most difficult part was running into people I knew while on a call," says Little.
"In the 1980's, one of my babysitters was killed at a motor vehicle accident I was called to. We see stuff most people don't get to see. It's hard when children are involved."
And then there were the risks associated with the job.
Little recalls one fire where he was on top of a roof and remarked to another fire fighter, "Hey, the tar on that shingle is bubbling."
Then, the alarm on his air tank went off indicating he needed to get more air. He informed his partner and the two of them left the rooftop together.
Seconds later the roof collapsed.
The job changed over the years and mostly for the better.
"The vehicles are bigger and more intricate...automatic instead of manual shift. And the training is far superior now. They (fire fighters) are so well trained that I don't have to tell them what to do. They are very professional. Dispatch was part of my job back then. Dispatch has gone to a CAD system now. I stay out of that room now."
Just before Little hopped in the truck to take that last ride in front of Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky and the members of C shift, Chief Keith Green saluted his retiring Captain.
"Wayne, there were literally thousands of runs where you affected a positive outcome. I am proud to have served with you. The Little family has over eighty years of continuous service. Happy fishing and happy golfing."
Little admits he'll have lots to do to keep him busy, but he'll definitely miss the hall.
"I'll miss the smell of the old damp hoses and coffee, the laughing, joking, humour and young guys. It's a fun place to work."
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