Matthew Roberts was named the 2019-2020 Firefighter of the Year at Stittsville’s Station 81 on November 30th. It was a proud moment for the family of Matthew Roberts, especially so for his parents Carolyn and Rick. A volunteer fire fighter at the station for five years, Matthew also received his five-year service pin at the ceremony. The year 2020 has been special for Matthew because he also married his Stittsville sweetheart Karina Castilla on Thanksgiving weekend.
His Mom Carolyn, full of pride told us, “since he was able to walk and talk he has dreamt of becoming a firefighter and he is proudly serving his community now as a young man”.
Living in Stittsville since the age of five, Matthew is a graduate of Sacred Heart Catholic High School. Following his dream, Matthew attended Algonquin College where he enrolled in the Preservice Firefighting Program. He graduated in the top of his class in 2013.
On receiving his award, Matthew has two important messages to share with our community — to bring awareness to the importance of the Green Light and their purpose in vehicles driven by volunteer firefighters; and, that the award isn’t just for him, but all of the hard working firefighters located at Station 81. Matthew said, “my fellow brothers and sisters at the station all work together to make Stittsville a safe place to live“.
Green Light Awareness signs are strategically placed throughout the city where areas are covered by Volunteer Firefighters to bring awareness to the lights and their purpose. Deputy Chief Todd Horricks told Stittsville Central in 2019, “… although, green lights do not allow any deviation from the Highway Traffic Act our hope is that residents will provide the right of way in an effort to allow our Rural Firefighters the opportunity to arrive at their respective stations in a safe and timely fashion. We typically provide the same messages for green lights as we would for other emergency vehicles lights which is: Slow Down. Move Over“.
Please give the right of way to a flashing green light — the person in the vehicle trying to get through traffic could be on the way to save your residence from fire or someone you know in an emergency situation.
Stittsville’s volunteer fire department has evolved considerably since it was established in 1943. Firefighting in Stittsville began its roots in 1943 when Bradley’s grist mill in Stittsville had a fire and the Nepean Fire Department was called upon to assist in extinguishing the fire. After the fire, Stittsville was left with a $125 bill from Nepean for their help. This event spurred the community of Stittsville to come together, under the auspices of the Stittsville Board of Trade, and establish the Stittsville Volunteer Fire Department. Ernie Lasalle, Jim LeBarron, Clifford Switzer and Art Bassett were instrumental in leading the new department.
The fire department was a very informal group in the early years. If there was a fire, any men who were available would assemble and help put it out. Today, volunteer firefighters, both men and women, have regular full-time jobs, but are trained today to the same standards as full-time firefighters at weekly training sessions.
Volunteer firefighters are integral to any community. Station 81 on Stittsville Main Street is staffed entirely by volunteers, while Station 41 on Eagleson Road and 46 on Iber Road includes volunteers and full-timers.
Carolyn added, “we are all very proud of his hard work and dedication to his Station, his City and his Stittsville community”.
So are we and very fortunate to have Matthew serving Stittsville.
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