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Moving tribute held to honour Windsor's late fire chief


WINDSOR – He gave thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours to the Windsor Fire Department in an effort to make it the best fire service it could be.

From improving the safety conditions for its members to enhancing the fire protection it provided to area citizens, Fred Fox was passionate about doing it right, and doing it well.

Now, nearly five years after his death, the membership and town have found a way to give something back to the late fire chief and his family.

A memorial dedication ceremony was held Oct. 4 to honour Fox and his commitment to the fire service. In a landscaped garden near the fire department's parking lot, a special bronze helmet sits atop a stone pedestal with an engraved plaque to honour Fox's role with the WFD.

For his loved ones, it was a moving tribute.

“Knowing that our family's name and Dad's No. 40 is preserved on the same grounds of an organization that he was strongly committed to is tremendously gratifying for our family,” said Greg Fox, the late chief's son, as he addressed the crowd gathered for the unveiling.

“Through his commitment to the Windsor Fire Department, Fred taught us all to lead by example. With his peers within the Windsor Fire Department, Fred worked diligently through his tenure to establish this department as a professional and well-equipped fire service provider that others would follow and admire,” Greg said.

“Although I have never been a member of the Windsor Fire Department, the principles of respectful citizenship, hard work and personal responsibility that he instilled in his WFD membership are the same values that he taught my sister, Melissa, and I,” he added.

Fighting back tears, Melissa Greenough thanked the Town of Windsor and the local fire department for creating a lasting tribute to her father.

Not only will the site serve as a permanent reminder of Fox's contribution to the fire service, but it will provide her daughter, Molly, and her brother’s son, Ethan, another way to get to know their 'papa.'

“This memorial provides a physical and lasting memory of Dad for the grandchildren that never met him,” said Greenough.

“This will be a place where we can come and visit and help our children understand who their grandfather was and how special he was to so many,” she added.

Friends, family members, firefighters and colleagues came out to bear witness to the monument unveiling. Several dignitaries were also on hand to speak briefly about honouring Fox's legacy, and how he impacted their lives.

Scott Burgess, Windsor's current fire chief, designed the park in memory of Fox. Although the WFD and town council wanted to do something to honour Fox after his passing, it took until this year to realize the project. In July, it started out as a sketch on a napkin, and through the support of others, turned into the memorial park.

“I can speak personally that Chief Fox's mentoring of me and many others here at the WFD over his fire service career have actually taught us how to survive and succeed, not only in fires or dangerous life and death situations, but in life in general,” said Burgess.

“We have learned from a professional leader, mentor and strong team player. He has taught us professionalism, tolerance, fortitude and leadership skills.... This was taught by him living it and leading by example,” he said.

“I have learned from Fred how to let some things go, but also, when not to, and to stand up for what is right and just. He has also taught us how to visualize something, such as this project, and not only visualize it but go after it and make it happen,” he continued.

Fox's leadership skills and dedication was cited numerous times both during and following the ceremony.

Fire safety officer Richard Smith, who spoke during a special awards presentation later on in the day, also offered his thoughts on how Fox helped shape the current WFD.

“Fred Fox was one of the best incident commanders in this province. He showed decisive leadership at emergency scenes and when Fred spoke and gave directions, you moved, you did it. We all had great respect for him,” Smith said.

The veteran of the force said Fox was a student of new and safe firefighting techniques and brought that knowledge to the membership.

“He was one of the first advocates of using breathing apparatus and positive ventilation as a firefighting technique,” Smith said.

“Fred had a tremendous sense of responsibility in serving his community, spending many days and nights guiding the fire department and representing the department to civic leaders and other fire service organizations,” Smith added.

Fox joined the Windsor Fire Department in 1971 at the age of 18. He was selected as the successor to fire chief Walter B. Stephens and led the WFD for 20 years before his death in 2009.

“As time passes, I hope that this monument and the enshrined memorial wording on the face of the helmet serve as a lasting reminder of the passion and commitment necessary to serve our community as a member of the Windsor Fire Department,” said his son, Greg, at the closing of the ceremony.

From improving the safety conditions for its members to enhancing the fire protection it provided to area citizens, Fred Fox was passionate about doing it right, and doing it well.

Now, nearly five years after his death, the membership and town have found a way to give something back to the late fire chief and his family.

A memorial dedication ceremony was held Oct. 4 to honour Fox and his commitment to the fire service. In a landscaped garden near the fire department's parking lot, a special bronze helmet sits atop a stone pedestal with an engraved plaque to honour Fox's role with the WFD.

For his loved ones, it was a moving tribute.

“Knowing that our family's name and Dad's No. 40 is preserved on the same grounds of an organization that he was strongly committed to is tremendously gratifying for our family,” said Greg Fox, the late chief's son, as he addressed the crowd gathered for the unveiling.

“Through his commitment to the Windsor Fire Department, Fred taught us all to lead by example. With his peers within the Windsor Fire Department, Fred worked diligently through his tenure to establish this department as a professional and well-equipped fire service provider that others would follow and admire,” Greg said.

“Although I have never been a member of the Windsor Fire Department, the principles of respectful citizenship, hard work and personal responsibility that he instilled in his WFD membership are the same values that he taught my sister, Melissa, and I,” he added.

Fighting back tears, Melissa Greenough thanked the Town of Windsor and the local fire department for creating a lasting tribute to her father.

Not only will the site serve as a permanent reminder of Fox's contribution to the fire service, but it will provide her daughter, Molly, and her brother’s son, Ethan, another way to get to know their 'papa.'

“This memorial provides a physical and lasting memory of Dad for the grandchildren that never met him,” said Greenough.

“This will be a place where we can come and visit and help our children understand who their grandfather was and how special he was to so many,” she added.

Friends, family members, firefighters and colleagues came out to bear witness to the monument unveiling. Several dignitaries were also on hand to speak briefly about honouring Fox's legacy, and how he impacted their lives.

Scott Burgess, Windsor's current fire chief, designed the park in memory of Fox. Although the WFD and town council wanted to do something to honour Fox after his passing, it took until this year to realize the project. In July, it started out as a sketch on a napkin, and through the support of others, turned into the memorial park.

“I can speak personally that Chief Fox's mentoring of me and many others here at the WFD over his fire service career have actually taught us how to survive and succeed, not only in fires or dangerous life and death situations, but in life in general,” said Burgess.

“We have learned from a professional leader, mentor and strong team player. He has taught us professionalism, tolerance, fortitude and leadership skills.... This was taught by him living it and leading by example,” he said.

“I have learned from Fred how to let some things go, but also, when not to, and to stand up for what is right and just. He has also taught us how to visualize something, such as this project, and not only visualize it but go after it and make it happen,” he continued.

Fox's leadership skills and dedication was cited numerous times both during and following the ceremony.

Fire safety officer Richard Smith, who spoke during a special awards presentation later on in the day, also offered his thoughts on how Fox helped shape the current WFD.

“Fred Fox was one of the best incident commanders in this province. He showed decisive leadership at emergency scenes and when Fred spoke and gave directions, you moved, you did it. We all had great respect for him,” Smith said.

The veteran of the force said Fox was a student of new and safe firefighting techniques and brought that knowledge to the membership.

“He was one of the first advocates of using breathing apparatus and positive ventilation as a firefighting technique,” Smith said.

“Fred had a tremendous sense of responsibility in serving his community, spending many days and nights guiding the fire department and representing the department to civic leaders and other fire service organizations,” Smith added.

Fox joined the Windsor Fire Department in 1971 at the age of 18. He was selected as the successor to fire chief Walter B. Stephens and led the WFD for 20 years before his death in 2009.

“As time passes, I hope that this monument and the enshrined memorial wording on the face of the helmet serve as a lasting reminder of the passion and commitment necessary to serve our community as a member of the Windsor Fire Department,” said his son, Greg, at the closing of the ceremony.

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