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Springdale firefighter recognized for years of service

Everett Pitts, left, having a coffee after a house fire in 2014 with Springdale Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Rennie Normore.
Everett Pitts, left, having a coffee after a house fire in 2014 with Springdale Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Rennie Normore.

SPRINGDALE, NL — Everett Pitts has answered all kinds of emergencies during his 40-plus years of fire services with the communities of Springdale and Little Bay.

From the tragic emergencies involving death to rescue calls for a beloved pet after a beaver tried to get into a resident’s home, the volunteer firefighter has seen just about everything over his career.
Originally from Canning’s Cove, Bonavista Bay, Pitts started teaching in the early 1970s. He taught in Little Bay for about 16 years, then in Springdale for the rest of his career.
Pitts began volunteer firefighting in Little Bay in the mid-1970s and has been fighting fires and responding to other emergencies ever since.
“I was a part-time town clerk for Little Bay when I went there teaching,” Pitts said. “There were no fire services there, so I got together with some of the residents and we formed a fire department.”
Pitts spent 14 years as the community’s fire chief. When he moved to Springdale to continue his teaching career he volunteered with that town’s fire department. He served as a regular member for many years and as chief for over a decade.
After retiring from teaching, Pitts spent 11 years working as the “Learn Not to Burn” fire coordinator with the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services. His role entailed travelling throughout the province teaching young children about fire safety.
While he’s retired from that position now, Pitts remains an active member of the Springdale Volunteer Fire Department. His duties there include carrying out fire inspections. As the department’s fire prevention officer, he continues to visit schools and teaches fire safety to numerous community groups that visit the fire hall.
The Springdale Volunteer Fire Department responds to fire calls, vehicle crashes, high angle rescues and water rescues. The department also assists other nearby towns when called upon.
There are several calls that have left a lasting impression on Pitts, he admits, some fond memories and others not so much. The calls that are hard to forget are those involving death, according to the firefighter, whether from a motor vehicle accident or a fire.
“We’ve seen it all in Springdale,” he said. “And those types of calls are the hardest ones.”
Firefighting has changed a great deal over the decades, he says.
“Not only are you better protected now by your clothing, but you’re better protected by the training you have,” he said.
Pitts was presented with two service awards at a recent NL Association of Fire Services’ conference held in Gander. The Town of Springdale also congratulated Pitts on his service.
Springdale Volunteer Fire Chief Rennie Normore said Pitts’ time travelling the province as the Learn Not to Burn fire coordinator taught children lessons they carried with them throughout their lives.
“Everett went on snowmobiles in Labrador to reach communities,” Normore said. “He reached every school and every kid he could in Newfoundland and Labrador. Through talking to other firefighters at (NL Association of Fire Services) annual general meetings, chiefs would say that if they had a fire in their communities, Everett’s Learn Not to Burn program was instrumental in saving someone’s house or kids or families. Because the kids remembered what (Everett) had taught them.”
Pitts and former Springdale fire chief Sheldon Hillier were instrumental in having highway markers placed along the Trans-Canada Highway throughout the province, according to Normore.
Pittts said being recognized by a municipality and provincial government makes volunteer firefighters feel appreciated.
Putting your name forward as a volunteer firefighter is a great way to help your community as long as you are committed to the role, according to Pitts.
“You’ve got to have the drive to be a firefighter,” he said. “It’s not like joining a social group. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s hard work, a lot of training. But, when you do get a call and you make a safe, it’s fulfilling.”
It’s easy to recognize the passion Pitts has for volunteering.
“It’s the satisfaction of helping other people,” he said. “Volunteering comes from the heart. You don’t do it because you’ve got to do it. You do it because you want to do it.”

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