Editorial: Why our firefighters are the best

It seems like a bad dream now, but all Robyn Kenefick needs to do is look out the window of her Robinson Pl. home, and she remembers one of the scariest moments of her life. 

A quiet Friday night watching TV was suddenly interrupted by a knock at the door, and a stranger telling her to get out — the neighbour’s house was on fire.

“By the time I was able to pick up the phone, there was a wall of flames next door. It was horrifying,” she says of the Jan.18 blaze, which destroyed the garage and part of the attic of her next-door neighbour’s house, at 5190 Robinson Pl. As the View previously reported, the two homeowners made it out of the fire, but one of their dogs sadly did not. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

It’s been a sad, stressful time. After some reflection, Kenefick realized there’s also opportunity to be thankful for what we have in Peachland — some amazing firefighters who really care about our community. So, she walked into the View office a few days ago to place an ad:

“The fire department was able to contain the big fire and our home was spared due to the great hard work of Chief Dennis and the other firemen,” Kenefick says in the ad in this week’s paper.

“Words cannot begin to say how grateful we (the neighbourhood) are and even during it all, they kept us informed.”

Considering our first responders are the ones who see us during some of our worst moments, Craig says the words of thanks mean a lot.

“It’s always good to hear,” he says.

Helping people through the emotional trauma encountered during an emergency like a house fire, is actually part of the training the men and women of Peachland’s Fire and Rescue Service receive. It’s also part of being in a small town, Craig says.

“We’re fortunate that being in a smaller, tight-knit community, there’s a real focus on that mental and emotional side of things, and making sure people in our community are looked after.”

He says the Jan. 18 blaze, in which every piece of Peachland’s firefighting apparatus responded, was a lesson on what you should do when a neighbour is in trouble.

“As we arrived and were getting organized, neighbours were already there and taking care of each other. They supported us by getting people inside and we want to thank them for that.” 

We’re a town of retirees and young families, says Craig, and that’s all the more reason to connect with those who live nearby.

“We have a variety of ages here, so it’s important to know our neighbours so when there’s an evacuation situation, or a house fire, there’s a plan in place so we can take care of each other.”

Back at Robinson Pl., Kenefick hasn’t seen her next door neighbours since the fire, but she still feels for them.

“I can’t image how they felt that night,” she says.

“I thought I was going to lose everything. I’m a pretty calm person, but standing on my driveway and seeing those flames way above my house, it was such a frightening thing to see.”

She doesn’t want to think about what would have happened if the stranger driving by had just shrugged and went on his way, instead of getting out and making his way to Kenefick’s front door.

“I feel bad I still don’t know who that man is,” she says, noting he stayed at the scene for some time, calming her down and ensuring she was ok.

“It really shows you that people care.”

-Kristen Friesen

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