A longtime firefighter in Norfolk County is hanging up his hat on April 24.John Verboom, the community safety officer, has been a firefighter for 44 years.Verboom started as a volunteer firefighter at Station 6 in Courtland, where he stayed for 36 years. He transferred to the station in Simcoe full-time on a contract in 2008. When that contract came to an end, he worked part-time for several months and, in December 2009, came back on as a full-time staff member.“I applied the day I turned 18 years old. I was on within three weeks,” Verboom said about the start of his career.By 1980, he was the instructor at Station 6.“As my time in fire went on, to me it was very obvious that I really had a desire to do fire prevention,” said Verboom.Verboom attended the Ontario Fire College to get his certificate in fire prevention, at which time the community safety officer position in Simcoe came open.He said the part of his job he will most miss is emergency management for Norfolk County. He said he enjoyed helping to prepare for special events, such as 2013’s Gentlemen of the Road concert featuring Mumford and Sons in Simcoe and Friday the 13th motorcycle rallies in Port Dover.He also remembers fighting a few large fires, including one in downtown Tillsonburg.“We managed to stop it about halfway down the block. That was a big night.”Verboom offers some advice for anyone considering firefighting as a career.“I think you have to be diligent,” he said.“Don’t be afraid to go get your college degree in fire prevention or fire suppression. It would really enhance your opportunities to get on full time somewhere,” he said.“Don’t expect to walk in off the street. You need to be thinking about it way ahead of time.”In his retirement, Verboom plans to continue with a home business.“I’m a carpenter and woodworker by trade. I’m going home to play with the wood.”[email protected]
The three-year project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of Norway, will help eight East African countries devise action plans to curb sewage, chemicals and other pollutants coming from the land into the region’s rivers and coastal waters. The Western Indian Ocean – one of the most wildlife-rich in the world with important mangrove forests, seagrass beds, lagoons and coral reefs – is thought to hold more than 11,000 species of plants and animals including such creatures as the dugong, a marine mammal believed to be the inspiration for sea-farers tales of mermaids; the coelacanth, a fossil fish; and more than a fifth of the world’s tropical inshore fish species. According to UNEP, some 30 million people in the five mainland countries of Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania and on the islands of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles, depend upon the area’s marine and coastal resources for food, livelihoods and recreation. The project was announced at the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the Nairobi Convention for the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the eastern African region. The meeting is taking place through Thursday in the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo. The treaty is a regional mechanism established by UNEP through which global treaties and agreements, including the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from land-based activities (UNEP/GPA) and those relating to the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO), can be implemented. The GEF is a multi-billion-dollar fund that invests in projects in developing countries. UNEP, along with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, play key roles in managing the Fund’s projects on the ground.