August 1, 2017 Jeremy Reigber

What is the Greater Toronto Multiple Alarm Association?

What is the Greater Toronto Multiple Alarm Association (GTMAA)? It is a question that is asked a lot but there isn’t an easy answer. The easiest way to answer that question is we operate Toronto Fire Services’ Support 7. To say that is all we do would be an understatement. Click below on “Read More” to read the full article.

What is the Greater Toronto Multiple Alarm Association (GTMAA)? It is a question that is asked a lot but there isn’t an easy answer. The easiest way to answer that question is we operate Toronto Fire Services’ Support 7. To say that is all we do would be an understatement. Our motto sums up what we are all about “Serving Those Who Protect Us” whether it be responding to multiple alarm calls in the City of Toronto, attending fire department funerals, to collecting toys for the annual firefighter toy drive and that is just to name a few of the many activities we participate in throughout the year.

Just over two years ago today was the first time I attended a club meeting and I was welcomed with open arms. When I think about GTMAA I think about family and people with a heart of gold. Hanging out with people three, four times my age but seem like we have been friends for ever talking about life or just sharing stories. I have meet some of my closest friends in this club and life long friends as well. People that I know no matter what is going on in their lives, they will try to help me if I need it. People have always told me that the fire service is a “brotherhood” and I didn’t understand what that meant till I started with GTMAA. I know for a fact that if I walk into any fire hall and tell them I am part of Support 7, they will treat me like one of their own. I will drive down the street and if a fire truck on the road sees my Support 7 decal on my car I get a big smile and wave. By joining GTMAA I wasn’t just joining them, I was serving the fine men and women of the Toronto Fire Services. “Well, It didn’t take long for me to discover that the members of the GTMAA are some of the most selfless, caring and altruistic people I have ever met. Our dynamic is unique in that it doesn’t matter how old we are or where we might be in life; we share the same passion to help firefighters in our community make a positive impact on people’s lives. “ said GTMAA member Melissa Kaye when asked about the culture of the club. When life long member Gordon MacBride was asked “What the GTMAA mean to you” he answered with the following, “In the forty plus years I have been a member of the OFBA and the MTMAA/GTMAA I have met an interesting variety of people, most of whom I am delighted to call friends. As for what we do for the department, and more particularly, the firefighters, is more then appreciated by the gals and guys on the front line. Having been on both sides, I can tell you there isn’t one of the brothers and sisters who are not amazed at what we do. And we always do it with a smile and kind words of encouragement and that is appreciated even more.”

But when “SUP7” is requested we all come running and we get the job done. No matter what time of day or what the weather is, Toronto Fire knows that Support 7 will be there. We have never experienced a call where we haven’t had enough members to serve on the truck. Time and time again members see if we need a shift change because we have so many members willing to respond. The longest time spent at one incident was the infamous Mississauga Mavis Road train wreck in November 1979 where we provided 11 days of continuous service. “I am proud of how we respond, day or night, to provide that support. I am proud of how we show that support when we attend firefighter funerals, memorials, and special events.” said GTMAA member Linda Betsworth.

A gentleman that I call my brother today welcomed my into this group with open arms, he is a founding member of the club and many Toronto Firefighters know him as “Wiggy” Gary Wignal had this to say when I asked him what the club means to him. “I started the club in 1975 along with the late Fred Calder Member No.2 after he and I met with a number of Toronto buffs at fire for a number of years. The first meeting was at Fred’s apartment on February 25, 1975 with 14 in attendance. The club at that time was known as the Metro Toronto Multiple Alarm Association after a number of other names where put forward. Over the years conversations with some of the more senior members like, Gord MacBride #9, and Dave MacDonald #36, wondering if the club would still be active after we have departed. It is very comforting to see the club grow to 50 members and a number of prospective members coming along to continue what was started all those years ago. I strongly erg existing members and new ones as they come on board, work hard to keep the club going by volunteering to help wherever you can. Be it on the executive, a committee or at events run by the club.

This club will only be as good as you make it.”

Gary Wignall helping a hand at the Toronto Fallen Firefighters Memorial

When I came up with idea everyone loved it and said that they would send me there views on what GMTAA meant to them. When I received a letter from former TFD captain Eric Motton I was blown away. This is the reason why we all volunteer our time;

“Here is my story…
I joined the TFD in 1978 and was assigned to what is now Aerial 312 on the B shift. (10A B-2) My first weekend on duty, I went to a few calls and most seemed to be fires. On my third night of duty, early Sunday morning, we had a third alarm on Ontario Street at Dundas Street where four houses were going up in flames. Pumper 7 was burning across the street, wires were arcing overhead, trees were burning and many handlines were pouring water into the fire. Here I was introduced to Box 12 for the first time. What a wonderful relief to get a cup of coffee and a snack in the middle of the chaos at that fire scene.
Over the next few months, the Box 12 crew would show up at the larger fires and were always friendly, and well received by my cohorts with their gifts of kindness. I found out that a distant cousin, Bill Moore, was a volunteer on Box 12 and we always appreciated meeting at the fires. Of course, I did not have much time to socialize but we always exchanged pleasantries with Box 12 crew members. Box 12 members would offer cigarettes (often out of their own pockets) warm sweet coffee, piping hot soup, donuts, and pop, all extremely welcomed by the crews on a job. Knowing that those folks had gotten out of bed on cold winter nights just to come out and give us some relief was pretty fantastic in my mind. The years ticked by and Box 12 was providing relief over and over again in all kinds of weather and at all hours of the day. A simple thank-you for the gift of a person’s time never seemed to be enough.
After my retirement from the TFS I took the opportunity to seek Support 7 to see if I could pay some back. This group has been showing me what it means to give back as I witness the generosity of the members of GTMAA who give their time and energy for the Toronto Fire Service and its members. I cannot begin to devote the time and energy that most of the members of this organization give to the fire service for no financial reward. It still amazes me to see this quality of compassion displayed by the fire buff fraternity. I hope that my future will be blessed by working with the members of GTMAA for many years to come.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *