Morning Star Staff
It was business as usual for Wayne Little as he completed his last shift with Vernon Fire and Rescue Services Tuesday.
“I’ve just got to finish this report,” he said at 7:45 a.m., as he wrapped up a 14-hour shift on duty which included attending two FMR (First Medical Response) calls.
“Firefighting is a tradition in our family. My uncle, Fred Little, joined in Vernon in 1932 and was chief from 1939-1970, and my father, Ken Little, was a firefighter for 33 years and chief from 1970-1980. The family has been serving for 80 years. I remember going to visit the old Vernon fire hall as a kid.”
Little started working at Safeway and began as a volunteer firefighter for three-and-a-half years after his father convinced him it would be a good job. He was a career firefighter for more than 32 years, retiring as Captain of Vernon Fire Rescue C Shift.
“It’s been a great career. I have really enjoyed my job here. Every day is different and you make good friends with the people you work with,” he said.
One of the most memorable fires he fought was the ice plant fire in July 1980.
“It was my first year and I was pumping from the arial ladder. Suddenly, there was the biggest fire ball and the 50 people who had been watching were running down the railroad tracks.
“Firefighting is always about getting the fire out safely for everyone. I would say the trucks have changed in that the trucks are more technical and the training is always getting better. Firefighters are very well prepared. I’ve had three or four near misses but with good timing, I made it. It’s exciting work and you have to make important decisions very quickly but I’ve enjoyed it. This is a bitter-sweet day for me.”
Little plans to keep busy with his many hobbies, which include rock hounding, photography, golf, tennis and fishing.
His advice to anyone who wants to be a firefighter: “Become a volunteer firefighter and try it out.”
Cara-Leigh Manahan, a dispatcher, will miss working with Little.
“That’s my Wayne going. He’s so consistent, you can tell he loves his job. He’s always calm and positive and that affects us all.”
Fire Chief Keith Green said, “It’s been a privilege and an honour to serve our community together. We thank Captain Little for all his dedication and hard work during his career and wish him all the best in his retirement.”
Little had the traditional last ride home in one of the fire trucks with his crew on C Shift.