It is easy to see the impact that Rose has made in the Thorold Fire Department and in her community with over 20 years of service.
As a child, Rose grew up in the fire hall. Her father was also a firefighter (retiring in 1995), joining the fire department when Rose was 16 months old. Rose credits this as one of the reasons she was interested in becoming a firefighter. Her husband, a firefighter at the same station, was a supporter of her joining the Thorold Fire Department over 22 years ago, when Rose became one of the first female firefighters within the department. As a result, Rose and her husband responded to calls together for over 4 years before he retired after 25 years of service.
Dedication is truly engrained in Rose. In addition to her exemplary dedication to the fire service, Rose worked at her full-time job for 36 years before retiring in 2012. Rose holds the distinction of being the only Thorold female firefighter who has received the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal that honours 20 years of service.
Chief Pearson notes that Rose has been an integral part of the Thorold Fire Department. He worked alongside Rose for over 15 years as a firefighter, captain and chief. Chief Pearson has watched her growth not only in skills and knowledge, but also in confidence as a firefighter. Fellow firefighters all noted that Rose is a natural leader. Although she never had an interest in seeking higher-ranking leadership positions, Rose still naturally took on a leadership role, guiding and encouraging younger firefighters throughout her years of service.
Rose proves that age is merely a number. While most of us would be starting to think about slowing down once our retirement years are upon us, Rose has continued to give the younger firefighters a run for their money. Rose has consistently shown her capabilities as a firefighter, rarely missing a weekly training night. In fact, just several weeks before retiring, Rose completed a second storey bailout with a hose line during training. Rose’s reason for continuing at this high level of commitment are in fact, quite simple. When asked, Rose stated, “I just want to do my job. If I can’t do it (skill requirements), then I shouldn’t be here.” Although Rose acknowledged that the job of a firefighter can be hard at times, she credits the support of Chief Pearson, other chiefs before him and her fellow firefighters for playing a role in her success over the years.
There is no question that Rose has played a vital role in blazing the trail for other female firefighters. But Rose has never seen herself as a “female” firefighter. She has been a firefighter regardless of gender; one that will be truly missed within the Thorold Fire Department.
From the Fire Service Women Ontario board members and on behalf of all members of the organization, we would like to say congratulations to Rose and thank you for your dedication to the fire service.