Countless residents turned up to Langley Memorial Hospital to cheer the nurses, health care workers, and first responders in March. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Langley Advance Times)

UPDATE: Langley firefighters pull back from special events

Flood of requests followed some special drive-by honour events in March, Township finds alternative

UPDATE: Township firefighters offer alternative.

Langley firefighters have pulled back on public appearances after taking part in tributes of nurses and doctors earlier during the pandemic lockdown.

On March 27, a massive parade of first responders, including fire trucks, police cruisers, and other vehicles gathered at Langley Memorial Hospital to pay tribute to the medical professionals who were facing down the coronavirus pandemic.

After that, there were several more drive-pasts of the hospital and other community events by local firefighters, but before long, both City and Township departments had to give up the practice.

In Langley City, it was simply a matter of too many events asking for firefighters, said acting chief Scott Kennedy.

After the March 27 event at Langley Memorial, the department started getting “all kinds” of requests, said Kennedy.

They took part in several events, but kept getting more requests.

“The volume of requests went up significantly,” said Kennedy.

All of them were worthy in some way, but there wasn’t time to do them all, and the department didn’t want to have to pick and choose.

“We decided we were not going to do any of them,” said Kennedy.

It was a good thing for the public to have firefighters visible, but it was too much to sustain.

In Langley Township, an April 16 memo said fire crews are no longer able to participate in cheer events, birthday drive bys of local homes, or other similar public displays of their vehicles.

The cutoff does not mean the end of all public events involving firefighters, according to Andy Hewitson, president of IAFF local 4550, which represents Township firefighters.

“While this is disappointing to our members, we are working on an alternative solution through our charitable society, where we will utilize our off-duty members to support the requests from the community and bring some smiles to those who are doing the right thing and staying home during this crisis,” said Hewitson.

“The citizens of Langley have always been there to support each other and have been amazing supporters of our charities,” he said. “We just want to give back.”

Langley RCMP took part in the initial week of events honouring medical first responders, but have since also returned to normal duties, said detachment spokesperson Cpl. Holly Largy.

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