BY NATE SMELLE
Family, friends and a small army of firefighters packed Town Council chambers on June 5 to honour Pelham’s former fire chief Jim Phelps.
Serving with the St. Catharines Fire Department for nearly four decades, Phelps joined the Pelham Fire Service as a volunteer after his retirement in 1994. While serving in Pelham he took on the role of acting Fire Chief on two separate occasions before he retired again in August 2012.
Phelps passed away in April at the age of 82.
“I knew Jim for many years and he was a friend, a brother and a mentor and I think he is I think he is well worth this honour,” said Pelham Fire Chief Bob Lymburner.
In recognition of his monumental career and lifetime of service, the Town decided to name its newest fire hall “Chief Jim Phelps Pelham Fire Station 3.” An advocate for replacing the temporary Short Hills Fire and Rescue station, Phelps was also involved in the design process and construction of the new facility. Lymburner said the Fire Service plans to have Phelps’ name adorning the building as soon as possible.
Present for the unveiling of a drawing of the new fire station was Phelps’ son Jeff Phelps. Thanking the Town and the Pelham Fire Department for honouring his father, Jeff said, “Dad spent the majority of his retirement years working for the Town of Pelham, but he did it willingly and he loved every minute of it. He enjoyed buying trucks and fixing problems, that was his thing. We really have to thank the Pelham Fire Service for the memorial they did for our father. It was really touching.”
Mayor Augustyn described Chief Phelps as a “strong part of the fire service community.” He recalled how Phelps became the interim fire chief from 1995 to 1999 after his initial retirement, and then again in 2010 when the Town was in need of a Fire Chief again. Augustyn said the Town greatly appreciated the dedication that he gave the community.
“Even when we needed another chief in 2010, he stepped up and did that being both the chief and the district Chief,” he said.
“He wasn’t the type of Chief who just spent his time doing paperwork during the interim period. He was involved in ensuring that all of the things we needed to do to get caught up, were done so that when the baton was passed to Chief Lymburner the department was in really good shape. He really turned the service around.”