Trevor Hearn has been helping out the Hinton Fire Department for the past three years.
The 24 year old, who has down syndrome and is non-verbal with special needs, was looking for another volunteering opportunity before approaching the fire department. The fire department immediately said yes, explained Hearn’s mom, Laurel Hearn.
“Trevor came for a few times and then [Fire Chief/Protective Services Manager] Todd Martens asked what we were thinking time wise, maybe just for the summer. And I said long term, and now we’re still here,” she said.
Each week, Hearn and his mom come by to volunteer at the station and it’s something that makes them both very proud. He usually works side by side with Lt. Adison Vidrih.
“He’s an all around awesome individual. He’s willing to give it his all, even though obviously he can’t. He’s not scared to get his hands dirty. He’s just a really pleasant person to work with,” said Vidrih.
His mom hoped to find something for her son that involved physical work, something that’s different from his other volunteer ventures.
“Physical labour and learning how to build shelves and spray painting and everything. They’re always busy, making things, fixing things. I wanted him to be part of a team, that was my main goal, and he is,” she said.
The fire crew accepted him into their team from Day 1 and Hearn loves his time there, she added.
“Him being positive and happy all the time helps the crew out. The guys like working with him and associating with him. He comes on the parade, he helps us out. He has a positive effect on the department,” said Vidrih.
Hearn’s favourite activity is coffee time, as he likes it when they all get together to talk and laugh, said his mom. Another big hit are the training props, which are sort like obstacle courses.
Firefighters will gear up and black out their masks to crawl through a course as if they’re making their way out of a burning building.
Although Hearn doesn’t black out his mask or wear the oxygen tanks, he still gears up and makes his way through the course with the crew cheering him on.
“He went through our entrapment prop. He was getting tangled up and he was having so much fun and he actually completed it. He was so happy when he completed it,” said Vidrih.
“That’s one thing I’ll never forget, is seeing his face when he got out of the prop and it wasn’t an easy prop for him.”
Other activities include washing the trucks, the floors, checking equipment with the crew, checking hoses for leaks, rolling up hoses after fires, and occasionally working in the office, his mom added.
“And a lot of training with the students here. They learn how to gain access into locked doors, car windows, and break car windows. He has used all kinds of tools like the jaws of life to cut off roofs and car doors,” his mom added.
Every day there’s something different for Hearn to do, which makes it exciting, his mom said. Other than serious work, Hearn was also around for some fun pranks like slamming a pie in the fire chief’s face on his birthday.
“The camaraderie here, Trevor loves that, they’ll tease each other or spray each other with hoses,” said his mom.
They hope that he can continue volunteering at the station, and learn new things as they go along. He also volunteers at multiple other places, and works at Freson Brothers, but his mom added, ”Out of everything Trevor does, this is the best.”
For more information about the Hinton Fire Department, check out the special 2019 Fire Prevention booklet inserted in next week’s edition of The Hinton Voice.