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"I went down and I looked in the fire hall and I said, oh shit, what kind of crap is this?" he said. "There was an old beat up truck with no roof on it, and they told me the temperature went down to minus 30. I said you can't drive that, there's no snow tires on it, there's nothing, it's junk!"
Pemberton soon put up 20 per cent of the money needed to get a later model truck and added another truck for rescue operations, this one a vehicle that Milt attained through connections with BC Tel.
"I decided we needed a vehicle for search and rescue but the village didn't want to give me any," he said. "I got hold of BC Tel and told them about all their workmen that were going to drown because we couldn't get to them because we had no vehicle. So BC Tel came out with a vehicle, and now we have a search and rescue vehicle."
Milt's efforts to establish an emergency services program, serving as a volunteer fire chief thereafter, didn't just make him a name in Pemberton.
"Wherever I went as a representative of local government, I was always approached by retired fire chiefs or current fire chiefs asking about Milt," said Susie Gimse, chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's board of directors.
"I was appointed to the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. and I was on that board for, I don't know, four years approximately, maybe longer. I often would be asked by retired fire chiefs, current fire chiefs, about Milt Fernandez.
"He did so much for the community and I don't know if he was fully recognized for his contribution over the years."
Milt never swore. He never wore jeans. He kept cool under pressure and knew how to deal with serious situations. He brought an ambulance service to Pemberton and started a real fire department.
He was known throughout his life as a storyteller with a great sense of humour. And according to his eulogy, that's precisely how he'd want to be remembered.
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