Richard Simmons Sr.
Former Oliver Fire Department Chief 1975-2001 (26 years).
Recruited by previous Fire Chief Chester Hutton in 1964.
Simmons talked about the importance of Chief Hutton in the many of the policies and practices still used today at the Oliver fire hall. Hutton served 25 years as Chief (1950-1975).
Simmons says he himself was succeeded by Chiefs Rod Parrent, David Janzen and Dan Skaros.
The fire department started along time before Hutton in 1950. Walter Schumann was a well known figure in the 30’s and 40’s says Danny Roberts who spoke during a question and answer period at today’s talk. This brought up a tale of the early days when the fire alarm was activated on a pole on Hwy 97 across the street from Tuck’s Café. In those days the Fire Chief spent a lot of time in the coffee shop and people with a problem would have to walk, run, ride a bike or drive downtown to activate the fire alarm. Not fast service in the old days in comparison to the present time.
The presentation to a small crowd at the United Church set to precede an AGM of the Oliver/Osoyoos chapter Okanagan Historical Society.
Richard Simmons Sr. says the roster was up to 24 people in the past but lately this has risen to 34 volunteers including one woman.
Simmons says the OFD is “treated very well” – this he found out many years ago when comparing notes with other small-to-medium sized volunteer forces.
With the help of the Osoyoos Indian Band, Oliver Rural Fire Protect District – the Department has a modern 10 bay building, top of the line equipment and a small dedicated group of firefighters taking on what ever is thrown their way.
Simmons says one of the main jobs of OFD is fundraising with money spent on equipment, training and charity donations to needy families.
The former fire chief talked about big Oliver fires, Trump Industies, Collens Department store, 3 fires at the Oliver Hotel – prior to the larger Mesa Hotel fire a few years ago. St. Martins had a significant fire. The SOSS fire considered the largest fire in the village with the Fairview Rd/Dump fire – a huge blaze that destroyed one home keeping volunteers busy for more than two days.