Kevin Roche was the Barriere Fire Chief in 1991. He is shown here handing Tammy Beddington a uniform helmet and congratulating her on being their newest member, and the only woman firefighter in the department. (Yellowhead Star/Pamela Russell photo)

Kevin Roche was the Barriere Fire Chief in 1991. He is shown here handing Tammy Beddington a uniform helmet and congratulating her on being their newest member, and the only woman firefighter in the department. (Yellowhead Star/Pamela Russell photo)

Valley Voices From The PastOctober 1991 – Barriere’s first fire woman

Reprinted from the Yellowhead Star, Oct. 21, 1991

By Pamela Russell

Tammy Beddington of Barriere has been named as the newest member of the Barriere Volunteer Fire Department which has 20 active members.

“Because I’m a woman does not mean I have to sit at home and watch the telephone,” said Beddington, who jumps at the chance to be there.

Beddington who served the fire department previously in a dispatch capacity, says she was asked by other volunteer members to join the department.

“I am quite pleased to be invited as a member of the department,” said Beddington.

When asked if she has any fear of being a volunteer, she said, “none whatsoever.”

Beddington says she is enthusiastic about learning from the bottom up.

She said she feels society’s attitude is changing toward women being involved in traditional male roles, but she feels that joining the fire department presents her with an equal opportunity.

Beddington would like to see other women join the force – those with the desire to make Barriere a safer place to live.

The new firefighter says she feels there are women who live and work right in Barriere that could provide assistance for the department,

She also commented that she feels secure in her own safety, working alongside the men.

“There is a lot of comradeship,” says Beddington, “I’m not just a woman.”

The end result, Beddington said, is she feels “when the phone rings, I might be able to save a life.”

She says the BFD has always been a really good department, saving homes and lives, “being there for the community.”

————-

In the early years of the Barriere Fire Department, Anne Genier, who served as department secretary for 11 years wrote a brief history of the organization:

“The original organizational meeting was held in the Barriere Community Hall, Feb. 10, 1966, with John Ganton chairing the meeting and the following committee being formed – J.D. Ganton, Mel Cameron, Royce Gibson, Doug McKenzie, J.A. (Sandy) Fennell, Wally Genier and Hans Rainer.

“A department report from that era states, “There had been a tanker truck located at a price of $1,000. To raise the money the committee held a house-to-house canvas.

In the fall of 1966 the committee met with the Barriere Improvement District Board to ask for a tax basis to operate the fire department. It was also decided to approach the Barriere Flying Club for a portion of the airport property on the north east corner.”

“In 1967 the following were elected to handle the work; Chairman Albert Carlstrom, secretary/treasurer Bob Johnson, Fire Chief Arnold Cimis, directors Wally Genier, Don Wittner, and Carman Smith. This group did a great deal of ground work to get the property, to start to accumulate fire equipment, and start to hold fire practices.

“A Women’s Auxiliary was formed with president Irene Bradford, secretary Mrs. Joe Hagen, treasurer Mrs. W. Koblum, social convenor Barb Laynge, and publicity Nell Fennell.

“The tanker truck was made ready for operation, there were fire department and water district meetings regarding the land and taxation, and plans were made for the first fire hall. Unfortunately, that was the year that the Barriere High School was burned to the ground.

“In 1968, Sandy Fennell served as fire chief. That year the Ambulance Society asked if they could have a portion of the building at no cost to the taxpayers and the Barriere Lions Club would pay for the addition to the building.

“Keith Moore became the fire chief in 1969. The fire hall was completed in October, and in November the department located a used fire truck in Sooke. Keith Moore and Wally Genier made a trip to look it over and brought back the recommendation that the BFD purchase the 1942 International pumper truck.

“Records show that on Jan. 31, 1970 BFD members brought the Sooke fire truck to its new home in Barriere.”

___________________

news@starjournal.net

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