On March 28, Denise Chandler alerted her neighbours to a fire that was about to change their lives forever.
Multiple fire departments and agencies converged in Windsor during the wee morning hours to help contain and extinguish the fire, which was located in a duplex on King Street, and to provide assistance to the fire victims and those living nearby.
A family of four was rescued from the building, along with their dog.
It was a successful joint effort — something that the Town of Windsor wanted to officially recognize.
And, on April 3, at the Windsor Fire Department, Mayor Anna Allen had the chance to do just that.
“I just felt that we don’t always recognize our emergency people, the first responders, so I wanted to do this. I know council supports me as well,” said Allen after presenting Chandler, Windsor fire chief Jamie Juteau, and Brooklyn firefighter Mike Paradis with individual Windsor Municipal Awards.
She also presented these awards to representatives of the fire departments that were involved in the incident — Windsor, Brooklyn, Hantsport, Mount Uniacke, Greenwich, Wolfville and Port Williams — plus awards to EHS, the RCMP, and REMO. Dispatchers with Valley Communications will receive recognition at a later date.
“I think that was A1,” said Juteau of the special evening event.
For Juteau, seeing all agencies celebrated was a reward in itself.
“I was very overwhelmed by that,” said Juteau. “I thought it was fantastic that the town recognized all the parties involved with that incident — the fire departments, police, REMO, you name it. It was a very nice gesture.”
Juteau, who took over as chief in 2018, has been a volunteer firefighter for almost 25 years. He helped rescue the children that night, and said firefighters don’t seek out recognition; their goal is to serve the community in times of need.
“It’s just something we do. We’re not in it for awards or anything like that,” he said.
While attending the recent funeral service for Truro firefighter Skyler Blackie, mere days after the Windsor fire, Juteau bumped into David Kendrick.
“He was one of my instructors when I was a brand new probie firefighter. He hit it on the head. It’s not about anything else. It’s about being at the right place at the right time, and everybody was,” Juteau said.
Paradis, who has been with the Brooklyn Fire Department since 2015 and got his start in Windsor in 2009, assisted with the family rescue. He said everyone worked well together at the chaotic scene.
“We showed up, we used our knowledge, our quick-thinking, and our training, and we did ultimately what we’re trained to do: we got those people out of harm’s way,” Paradis said, noting, “it’s an absolute honour” to work alongside so many dedicated volunteers.
As for receiving an award for his efforts, Paradis said it wasn’t something he set out to accomplish but he was pleased to be acknowledged.
“It’s really an honour to be recognized by the mayor alongside the Windsor chief and every other agency that responded to that call,” he said in a phone interview.
Allen said she can’t praise those involved with the rescue and fire knockdown enough.
“It’s about people who care in your community and who will go to length’s end, perhaps jeopardizing their own lives, to help others. To me, that makes for an extremely healthy community,” said Allen.
“It’s unfortunate that they had to do that but the point is, they did and probably saved lives. It’s amazing.”
Both Allen and Juteau have highlighted Chandler’s selfless actions that night as being key to the fire call having such a successful outcome.
Chandler “went back in to warn them. They weren’t roused at all. If she didn’t do that, I’d hate to think what might have happened,” said Allen.
“It’s what could have happened in that fire that didn’t (happen) that made it just such an extraordinary event.”
On April 4, an excavator was brought in to begin tearing down the duplex. The investigation into what caused the fire continues.
“We don’t want this to happen again, that’s for sure, but if it does, I know we have the best firefighting service available,” said Allen.
- Tragedy averted: Family rescued from burning building in Windsor
- Lower Sackville businesses aiding family impacted by Windsor fire, dealership providing SUV
- Windsor fire chief to hang up hat in December; deputy chief to take reins
- Firefighters battle blaze at old Edgehill School for Girls in Windsor