“Before he died, my father asked me if I would do something for the boys that worked,” said Ron Norfield, a former captain in the Prince Albert Fire Department. “He knew the name of every kid of every fireman that ever worked for him, and he was there for 32 years.”
About 10 members, colleagues and friends of the Norfield family gathered at the fire hall for the afternoon to watch Ron Norfield’s daughter, Mallory, present International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 510 president Lloyd Zwack with the cheque.
“When Ron and I had began discussions about it, I was certainly surprised at the generosity of the gift,” Zwack said. “But looking back and putting everything into perspective now, it’s not shocking. You look at the kind of person that Captain Norfield was -- it’s what he represented and it’s very nice to see.”
The donation will be divided up into bursaries for the children of any P.A. Fire Department member, past or present. A committee consisting of a Norfield family member, a retired fireman and one member of the union executive will select recipients each year.
“It’s a bursary, not a scholarship. What that means is it can be for any accomplishment, not just for marks,” Norfield said. “If you shoveled everybody’s snow at Pineview Terrace, or if you’ve done really well in school, or if you’ve done something above and beyond what your friends are doing, the committee of three will pick it.”
Zwack added that the hope is to award bursaries for the 2013 year and that there doesn’t have to be just one recipient.
“We’ve had some very preliminary discussions, and as a committee ... if we do see two great candidates that are equal, we do have the ability to distribute money to both of them,” he said.
Norfield said that there are people who have expressed interest in donating to the bursary. Lawyer Peter V. Abrametz dealt with the legal aspect of organizing the bursary for free, which Norfield was thankful for.
“He did all of the legal work for us -- prepared all of the documents -- and it was a lot of work,” he said. “And then he called me in, handed everything over to me and said, ‘There, no charge.’”
Ron Norfield resigned from the fire department after an injury on the job left him permanently disabled. He has spoken publicly of hostile working conditions and issues with management within the department, though he said he has since moved on.
“(The money is) going to the kids of any union member and any management member, too,” he said. “The way I look at it is two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Vern Norfield, who passed away last year, served with the Prince Albert Fire Department for 32 years and reached the rank of captain.
Retired captain Louis Piche was mentored by Vern Norfield, before mentoring Ron Norfield.
“Vern had a sense of humour that was fun to work with. He was compassionate in regards to his men and made sure they were safe at all times,” Piche said. “To this day, I still remember Vern as my captain.”