April 29th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 17
Pass mourns death of fireman Rosia
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Matt Peterson photo
Family, members of the fire department and the Honour Guard from Calgary held a funeral procession down Main Street Blairmore to honour Lawrence Rosia on April 17.
Feature Writer
The Crowsnest Pass recently mourned the loss of one of its long-time residents.

And when Lawrence Rosia passed on April 11, 2015, the town also lost a lifetime of stories and experiences.

Having spent 26 years at Horace Allen School as a janitor and bus driver, Lawrence saw thousands or our residents grow and change along with the town itself.

Among his community contributions, which were many, was Lawrence's nearly life-long dedication to the fire service.

In July, Lawrence would have been awarded for 70 years of service to the fire department, making him one of Canada's longest serving firefighters. In 2013, Lawrence received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, and his 4th bar for 68 years of service in November 2014.

During his near 70 years in the fire service, Lawrence saw the organization grow from having to pull a hose cart up from the Bellevue Mine to respond to calls, to the first use of Scott Air Packs (which the firefighters paid for) in the Crowsnest Pass and the pouring of the floor for the Bellevue Fire Hall.
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"From when he was young, when he worked in the store in Coleman, when the fire siren went off he would be running for the hall," said his wife of 65 years, Bessie. "That's when he started and he just kept on going."

Bessie can recall a time all the firefighters had a phone in their houses for emergencies.

"If there was a fire the women would answer the phone and push the button (for the siren)," said Bessie. "Then we'd have to tell them where it was."

Lawrence started in the fire service in 1945 at the age of 18. This was a time before any kind of supplied air protection or protective clothing for firefighters and building codes and fire-safety practices were not as stringent as they are now.

"There were lots of fires here back then," said friend and fellow firefighter Don Harvey, noting people often burned their garbage and wood and coal stoves were common.

Harvey, a 25-year veteran of the fire service himself, remembers being on calls with Lawrence through some of the biggest fires in Pass history.
"Before amalgamation, the towns didn't have much money … most of the people did it because they liked the town and didn't want to see it burn up," said Harvey.
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"He had seen the evolution of the fire department here. From hand carts to the new modern trucks."

The firefighters were a tight-knit group then and there was often a long waitlist to join.

"There was usually four guys with their name on the board waiting to get into it," Harvey said.

Lawrence was a man who always had his community in mind and, in the days before amalgamation, always fought hard for his beloved Bellevue, including helping build Firemans' Park.

There was one thing no one could deny Lawrence, and that was his presence and determination.

"If we decided to do something, it was done," said Harvey.

Crowsnest Pass Fire/Rescue Chief Jamie Wilkinson said Lawrence was always ready to share his experiences with his fellow firefighters.

"Listening to him you were easily caught up in his experiences," said Wilkinson.

"Lollie was a true mentor to young and seasoned firefighters and always showed support."

"He will be greatly missed."
April 29th ~ Vol. 85 No. 17
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