Our Hero: Herb Pearce

Above: Herb Pearce with Ladder 4, which he had a hand in designing. – Submitted Photos

submitted by the Pearce family

As we reflect back on 2016, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank and honour one of our local heroes, one who just happens to be our dad. August 2016, marked the end of an era: after 35 years of unfailing dedication and heroism, Herb Pearce, AKA Charlie 2, hung his Captain’s hat and retired from the Morinville Volunteer Fire Department. Standing proud at his side throughout his journey was our mom. His loving and supportive wife Vi, always there to offer comfort after the heart-wrenching calls, or to rejoice with over the victories.
It has always been a great source of pride having a firefighter for a dad. Even more impressive is that he did this in a volunteer capacity over and above his full-time career and family obligations. Thinking back on how many times he raced out the door to a call, it is hard to imagine the countless hours he gave to this community. In fact, it really wasn’t Thanksgiving if the tones didn’t go off five minutes into our family gathering. Such was life in our home. It didn’t matter the hour or holiday, if the tones went off, so did he. We can’t possibly express with words how proud and fortunate we are to call him Dad.

Over the years, the Fire Department became an extension of life. From attending Wednesday night practices, helping with local fireworks, representing the department at town events, participating in firefighter competitions, and of course, responding to the hundreds of calls in between. During his 35 years, he fulfilled the positions of Firefighter, Training Officer and Captain, just to name a few. His baby at the department was the original aerial ladder truck. Back in 2010, that truck was replaced with the new and improved Ladder 4, which was appropriately manufactured by Pierce (close enough).

Together with our mom, we would also like to highlight the many cherished friendships that were formed through the department over the years. Although his volunteer career has come to an end, many of those friendships will last a lifetime. From all of us, and I think we can speak for our dad, we would like to share our deepest gratitude to each and every member of the Morinville Fire Department – you truly are an extension of the Pearce family.

On behalf of every resident of Morinville and the surrounding area, as well as every person or family who’s lives were touched by your compassion and dedication, we would like to send you our sincere thank you, and congratulate you on your valued accomplishments and retirement. Simply put ­— thank you for being you!

Reflecting on 35 years through the eyes of “the wife”:

What can I say about my husband? After 35 years on the Morinville Fire Department. WOW! His love and commitment for the department and his role as a Captain for 30 years was second to none. It all started in the summer of 1981 when a neighbour invited him to attend a Wednesday night meeting; he was hooked! By August, the fire department became his second job and family. Many volunteer hours were spent taking firefighter and officer courses at the fire hall or through the Fire Training Centre in Vermilion. He loved learning and wanted to make sure he was well trained and educated to take on his role as firefighter and captain. Early on in his career, he even took the initiative to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician in order to provide the best possible care to those in need.

He took great pride in showing off the hall and the fleet of fire trucks and took every opportunity to take family and friends for a tour. I was shocked when I first learned that he was cleaning toilets and picking weeds at the hall (it certainly wasn’t happening at home). He was also notorious for tossing any firefighter’s shoes outside (even into a snowbank) if their shoes were not placed in an orderly fashion on meeting nights; even the chief’s!

Over the years he responded to hundreds of calls, including horrific motor vehicle accidents, house fires, large structure fires, suicides, heart attacks and pet rescues. There was a lot of blood, sweat, fear and tears shed throughout his career. Thankfully, there were also many triumphs and laughs along the way. Despite all the calls that resulted in the loss of property and/or lives, he kept his sense of humour; you could always count on his stories and jokes to make the mood uplifting.

One story I’d like to highlight is a conversation he had with a lady who kept insisting that the department was “just volunteers” – as if that made their work less important or relevant. He finally ended the conversation with, “yes, we are only volunteers, and we only fight pretend fires.” If you know or have ever spoken to a member of the Morinville Fire Department, you will know of the real dangers they face during their “volunteer” work. Yes, over the years there were many close calls that could have ended his life and many nights of very little sleep. He often responded to calls around midnight and got home only to shower and head off to his full-time job. Lots of nights I would lay awake and pray he would come home safe because I never knew for sure what type of call he was responding to. The best calls, of course, were the ones with happy endings. I recall one night he climbed a 50-foot spruce tree to save a kitten. He fondly remembers climbing down and handing the kitten over to an excited 3-year-old girl standing in her pyjamas.

He never turned off his radio; he was true to his commitment, and that was responding 24/7 to all calls when he was in town. I am very proud of my husband and everything he sacrificed over his career as a firefighter; he is truly amazing! He never complained when he had to leave the dinner table before he even had a bite, or jump to a call and leave a house full of company, or only had two hours of sleep. He was so dedicated to helping people, and I know he will continue to help anyone he can (including flat tires, medical emergencies, and vehicle accidents). My husband is a great man and father. It was very hard for him to retire and he is really missing it. Throughout his journey, many great memories were made – the competitions, family events, parties, etc. that took place will always be held close to his heart. I think he will forever hear these words “Morinville Link Up.” And as I “Link Down” I want to thank my children (Karen and Keith) for initiating this article to honour their father; they too, were much a part of his legacy.

Praise from superiors

The official speech that was given by Fire Chief Brad Boddez at the year end party.

“Our next retiree needs no introduction. Captain Hoselay has been with our department since August 1, 1918…or 81… Not sure if that’s a typo or not but regardless, he’s been around since Jesus was a baby. Herb has had a very memorable and prestigious, 35-year career with the Morinville Fire Department and has devoted an incredible amount of time and commitment.

“During his time at MFD, Herb was a great Senior Captain and Captain, Training Officer, Leader and Mentor, Vehicle Extrication competitor and Hose Coupler, Olympic Wrestler, and of course, Mr. Safety, both on and off the fire scene. He is a loving husband, proud father and grandfather, a gifted musician, and fellow firefighter with a great sense of humor as you can always count on Herb for a joke or two.

“Thirty-five years in the fire service is a great accomplishment in itself, and the contributions you have made with our fire department has truly made Morinville what we are today. I have personally learned a great deal from Captain Pearce, and I want to thank him on behalf of all the men and women who have served alongside of him for so many years.”

This page: Herb Pearce with grandchildren (from left) Devyn, Nolan, Katie, and Maysen at Mickey’s Fire Station in Disneyland.

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  1. Congratulations Herb, on your retirement and thank you for serving this community. A well deserved tribute written by a loving proud family that also should be thanked for their contributions to this community.

  2. It was an honour and privilege to serve with you and you will be greatly missed. Great article for a great man

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