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Here for our Community — Allison Leavitt

September 27, 2022
Here for our community: Matt Reid Every day hundreds of people work behind the scenes to keep Prince Edward County running. We are profiling a few of the people that are ‘here for our community.’   We continue the series by talking with Matt Reid, Foreman of Recreation and Community Facilities   Can you start by giving an overview of your job?   There really isn’t a set day. It could be anything. On any given day there could be something in the parks that needs taking care of, it could be that something breaks and we need to fix it. We keep busy and it stays interesting. On a typical day in the winter, we’re working with ice users and making sure the arenas run. I lend a hand at the Picton arena when they need it but I’m mostly based out of Wellington.   In the spring we take the ice out of the arena. It’s pretty straightforward: we shave the ice down with the ice resurfacer and then we’ve got to put hot water on to remove the vinyl logos. Then we continue shaving it down. When we get down to the paint, we turn the ice plant off to break the seal between the ice and the floor. Then we bring in a tractor with a bucket and start taking the ice out in chunks. It takes anywhere between 4-5 days with a crew of 2-3 staff.   In the summer, there’s more ground to cover. We’re focused on the parks and washrooms and all of that fun stuff. There are 23 parks that we look after, so we’re all over the County, and our team grows with summer students and summer staff. The team that is responsible for the public washrooms are fantastic. I’ve done that shift a couple of times and it’s fantastic that they are able to keep up with it.   How long have you worked with the County? I started in 2008 as an arena attendant. It was a good job opportunity at the time and it stuck with me. I have been in the Foreman role for just over a year now. What do you like most about the job and working for the County? The thing I like most about my job is the staff I work with. It’s a good group and it makes it easy to come to work. There are 12 people on the arena team; that’s between both facilities in Wellington and Picton. I don’t know the right word to describe the team. It’s just that everyone gets along so well. Everybody’s easy going, and it makes it a lot easier to come to work everyday knowing that we get to do our job and have a good time doing it together. I was a little uncomfortable about this interview, because it’s a team effort here. Nobody could make this work without everyone else. I didn’t want this to focus on me, because it really is a team. How has COVID-19 impacted your work? It has made things a little more challenging, but everyone has done a good job with getting the protocols sorted out. We have appreciated everyone’s patience and understanding as we worked through the challenges of the pandemic. The screening, showing proof of vaccination and ID, the guidelines we have to follow and the delays on repairs due to shortages, contractor availability and shipping delays… it’s made things a little more challenging. The public has been really good, more than willing to follow the rules and be patient and understanding. Having the facility empty during lockdowns has been a little bit of a blessing because when we’re closed we get the time to do the really tedious and long jobs that we don’t get a chance to do when we have a full day of ice users and the public coming in and out. There’s been a lot of painting, buffing floors and things like that. We haven’t been sitting waiting for the doors to open. We’ve been doing a lot of things we can’t do with the public coming through the door. What do you enjoy most about the County? I grew up in the County. I like that this is where my family’s from, where my wife’s family is from. Everyone we know is here. It really feels like a community when you grew up here and know everyone. It is easier at work because I see a lot of ice users who either know me or know my family.      

Here for our Community….

Every day hundreds of people work behind the scenes to keep Prince Edward County running. We are profiling a few of the people that are ‘here for our community.’ We continue the series by talking with Allison Leavitt, Volunteer Firefighter.

How long have you been a volunteer firefighter and what interested you in becoming one?

This is my fifth year as a volunteer firefighter with Station 1 in Picton.

My dad is a Captain in Station 3 (Milford) so that is what originally made me aware of the opportunity to volunteer as a firefighter. I thought volunteer firefighting would be the perfect opportunity to give back to my community.

I am studying to become a paramedic, so this is also great experience for my career.

Can you give us an overview of your job?

Volunteer firefighters are not at the stations 24/7. We are all County residents who have other full-time jobs and careers, but when that pager goes off, we drop what we are doing and we go to the emergency call. My place of employment is very understanding and allows me to go to a call even though I may be working.

In addition to attending emergency calls, we do a lot of public education. We attend special events and community events, such as the Picton Fair, for public education opportunities, providing information to residents on fire prevention and life safety.

woman posing for photo in front of fire truck
"I am studying to become a paramedic, so this is also great experience for my career."

We also train once a week at the station and attend regular meetings just to keep on track and well prepared to respond any emergency that may occur in the County.

What do you like most about working for the County?

It’s more or less a big family. You work closely with other departments as well as those in your own, so you know everyone.

It’s nice to have an employer that values your needs and has that sense of community as well.

woman smiling from inside of fire truck
"There is no limitation to volunteer firefighting. As long as you're 18 years of age or older, you can be a volunteer firefighter. Volunteer firefighting isn't just for men. It's for women too, and we encourage women to join."

What do you like most about living in The County?

My family is here. My job is here. I have created my life here and it is home for me. It’s that small-town feel and that sense of community pride that I love.

How are you involved with the community outside of work?

Outside of volunteer firefighting, I help out with local soccer and hockey teams whenever they need volunteers.

I also do a bit of photography on the side, so I like helping out small businesses when they need photos done for their websites.

I also enjoy fundraising and I participate in various fundraisers.

If there is one thing you want the public to know about the work that you and your colleagues do, what is it?

There is no limitation to volunteer firefighting. As long as you’re 18 years of age or older, you can be a volunteer firefighter.

Volunteer firefighting isn’t just for men. It’s for women too, and we encourage women to join.

One great opportunity for young women who are interested in firefighting is the annual in-house recruit class known as Camp Molly. Camp Molly is a firefighting training camp for young women ages 15 – 18 that allows them to get hands-on experience in the world of firefighting. This summer, we had about 30 participants and it took place at the Hastings Prince Edward training tower in Trenton. I was so proud to help out at this camp and the experience was a career defining moment for me.

As a female volunteer firefighter, I feel accepted and appreciated by my fellow recruits and I love volunteering my time to Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue. Anyone interested in volunteer firefighting with The County can find more information on The County’s website.

Read all of the Here for our Community series

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