March 7, 1928 – January 23, 2002
On January 23, 2002, the Greater Toronto Multiple Alarm Association (GTMAA) lost another of our own. Bob Viel passed away after a long courageous fight with a failing heart.
Bob’s first contact with us was during Fire Prevention Week in 1981 where he was viewing our displays at the Scarborough Town Centre. Also on display was “Old Red,” our original canteen unit and this really caught his eye. I was fortunate enough to be “on duty” with the display and offered to answer any questions he might have. I found that he had a very strong interest in the fire service and invited him out to one of our meetings.
At the December meeting in 1982, Bob was unanimously voted in as a member of the Metro Toronto Multiple Alarm Association (MTMAA) and held card #52. He was a very active member, attending all group functions and meetings, turning out at all hours to help man the canteen.
In September of 1985, MTMAA was the recipient of a retiring mechanic’s vehicle to convert into a new canteen unit. Bob was right there, front and centre, with a design for the interior of the “new” truck. Members worked diligently for the next 5 months under Bob’s watchful eye. Not a nail was used in construction. “Screw and glue!” was his rallying cry. The truck could be rusted to the ground and the interior would have been just as solid as day one.
At the dedication ceremony for Support No. 1 (SUN 1) on February 18, 1986, Bob was presented with a plaque from the Scarborough Professional Firefighters Association Local 626 in recognition of his efforts. Bob was also the MTMAA Fire Buff of the Year for 1986.
In the mid-nineties when it was becoming obvious that SUN 1 was getting a little long in the tooth and at the request of the Scarborough Fire Department, a committee was struck to design a new custom built rehab vehicle. Bob was a valued member of that committee and December 16, 1996 saw the culmination of their work when Support 7 was dedicated to service.
Failing health prevented Bob from working on this new rig but his interest still remained, as he kept up-to-date through the Trumpet newsletter and conversations with other members. Bob was also awarded Honourary Life Membership in the MTMAA for his loyalty and dedication.
At least 20 members of the GTMAA family were in attendance at his memorial service and the family was very appreciative that we brought along “Bob’s Truck.”
As originally published in the GTMAA Trumpet