City firefighter honoured for charity work

A Sarnia firefighter has been honoured for his “amazing” work with Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Chris Ireland was presented with the Extra Mile Award in Toronto recently, given annually to a firefighter or fire department that goes the extra mile.

“He’s done an amazing job,” said Kerri Stocks, a spokesperson in the London office. “He’s become a key volunteers for us. “

Ireland is the sparkplug behind the “rooftop campout” staged at Lambton Mall, in which firefighters spent 72 off-duty hour in the December cold, tossing footballs, playing board games and lowering a boot to collect donations from shoppers below.

In two years the campouts and other local initiatives have raised $30,000.

“That’s really a huge amount,” Stocks said.

The money supports research and equipment for people with MD, a group of muscle diseases with no known cure.

The first rooftop campout in 2012 generated $14,500, a record for such inaugural events.

Ireland said the award was huge surprise.

“I don’t feel very deserving,” he said. “Without help from our entire (firefighters’) association I don’t get it. It’s not an individual award; it should be everyone getting the credit.”

Langtree Controls was a major sponsor, Jack Doyle’s helped food and even Canadian Forces got in the act by providing a large tent to sleep in.

“Sarnia-Lambton is a very giving community,” Ireland said.

Muscular Dystrophy has been the charity of choice for Canadian firefighters since 1954.  To date, members of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association have raise more than $13 million.

Deputy Chief Bryan Van Gaver said the Sarnia Fire department is extremely proud of Ireland’s efforts.

“The amount of time he spends volunteering, especially for MD, it’s pretty impressive. It’s great to have guys like that working here,” he said.

“We have a lot of guys who volunteer in the community. It’s good to have the young guys keep it going.”

– George Mathewson