Hall lauds fallen man
Firefighter died in performance of duties
Donald (Chic) Milne answered his last alarm from Fire Station 2 on Feb. 2, 1974.
He drove Pumper 2 from the fire hall at Keele St. and Rutherford Rd. to a house fire on Crestwood Rd. in Thornhill. He died in hospital the next day.
Chic was the first — and to this day, the only — Vaughan firefighter to die in the performance of his duties.
Thirty-five years later, the station he was based out of has been dedicated to his memory.
On Monday, family and friends gathered at that fire station, known as 7-2, to unveil a plaque in Chic’s memory.
“It’s great because I loved my dad a lot,” said Cheri Milne, Chic’s daughter. “This was his life, it really was.
“I am really proud, more so than I thought I would,” she said, choking back tears. “I didn’t think I would get this upset. I was trying not to. But it’s hard, you know, because it just kind of comes back.”
Chic was originally from Aurora, where his dad served on the volunteer fire department for 20 years. He followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the Pine Grove fire department in 1963 as a volunteer. Chic became a full-time Vaughan firefighter three years later.
More than a dedication to public service, Chic inherited another defining characteristic from his dad: the nickname.
“When his father passed away, they started nicknaming my husband that,” Chic’s wife Elsie Milne said Friday. “Most people didn’t know his real name.”
Even daughter Cheri knew him simply as Chic.
“No one ever really knew him any other way,” she said. “I didn’t even know his name was Donald until I got old enough. He was always Chic and always a lot of fun.”
Vaughan Fire has kept Chic’s memory alive by ensuring every new recruit knows his story.
“It touched me when I found out that all new recruits to the fire department learn who my father was,” Chic’s son Mark Milne said last week at city hall. “Throughout my life, many gave their time to assist us, whether it was to help my mom re-shingle our roof or dig out the overgrown bushes at my dad’s grave.
“Thank you very much for continuing to keep our family as part of your family.”
City hall was filled with firefighters, both past and present, to honour Chic a week ahead of the plaque unveiling. The dedication of Fire Station 7-2 is the result of a chance encounter Councillor Tony Carella had with Vaughan Professional Fire Fighters Association (VPFFA) secretary John Wilmot last spring.
“Donald (Chic) Milne gave his life selflessly on that dreadful day back in 1974 doing what he loved: serving his community,” VPFFA president Mike Doyle said last week. “There are very few in these chambers today who ever met Chic, few who worked with him, but I can tell you every member of the Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service and Vaughan Fire Fighters Association knew Chic Milne. It’s a bond that every firefighter shares.”
Vaughan Today In print: October 9, 2009, page 1 Online: October 9, 2009 [link]