BRIDGEWATER - Todd Arenburg, a respected captain with this town's volunteer fire department, is among newly etched names on a memorial wall in Ottawa that honours fallen firefighters.
The departed fireman's name is also attached to what will be an annual truck show in Bridgewater benefiting a cause important to him.
The public is invited to check out a fleet of emergency response vehicles between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the South Shore Exhibition grounds in Bridgewater during the inaugural Captain Todd Arenburg Memorial Truck Show. It's a free event - happening rain or shine - but donations are encouraged in support of the Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society in Arenburg's name.
Bridgewater volunteer firefighters Michaela Creaser and Alex Johnson are co-chairing the organizing of the truck show in memory of their fellow member who lost his cancer battle in April 2020 at age 54.
Johnson and Creaser started planning the show in the spring of 2022.
"Todd passed away during the (beginning of the) pandemic and we really didn't get to do a big thing for him except a truck parade before he passed," Creaser said. "We really thought he deserves something special and we think this is a good way to give him that."
Arenburg left a lasting legacy on the fire service; his time involved in it spanned nearly 40 years and included tenure with the volunteer department in the Midville district, in addition to Bridgewater. He was also an emergency response team member at Michelin, where he worked for over 20 years.
Arenburg was also lauded among his peers as an instructor. He taught at the Nova Scotia Firefighter's School in Halifax County and served on its board of directors and trained members of the Bridgewater department.
Hospitalized in Bridgewater due to his deteriorating health, Arenburg, from his room, was able to view a surprise showcase of more than 20 pieces of fire apparatus from more than a dozen neighbouring volunteer fire departments that circled the South Shore Regional Hospital property in tribute.
Days after the parade he was presented a long service award medal in recognition of his dedication.
"I knew that he knew it all," Creaser said. "He was an open book for anything firefighting related - if you had a question, you went to him."
Arenburg's widow, Anita, was approached about the truck show concept and endorsed the idea. In a phone interview, she said her late husband would be self-conscious about his name being attached to the event would have been proud and honoured by the gesture.
"He did it because he loved it," Anita said of Arenburg's firefighting service to the community. " He wasn't a self-centred person."
Earlier this year, she wrapped up 36 years of active firefighting activities with the Bridgewater department but remains an honourary member. She, along with other fire service colleagues were heading to Ottawa for the Sept. 11 services at the Canadian Firefighters Memorial where Arenburg's name will be unveiled as part of the national monument.
Anita and members of Arenburg's family will be present at the truck show on Sept. 17.
"I really think he'd be proud of it - he had a love of fire trucks," Creaser said of what she thought Arenburg's reaction would be. "His big thing was educating the public."
Creaser also hopes the event encourages the public to become firefighters, especially in their own communities.
"We can always use the people," Creaser said, "but, if you don't want to join, you can learn about the trucks."