A great morning with the transit users in Newton with everyone looking forward to using LRT in the near future.
The riders were excited about the youth passes for those 18 and younger, and all were very happy with the Surrey First platform on public safety.

Remember to get out and vote this Saturday for Tom Gill, Mike Starchuk and the Surrey First team.

Mike Starchuk - With Commuters and Surrey Fire Fighters At the Newton Exchange - MikeStarchuk.com Mike Starchuk - With Surrey First Candidates and Surrey Fire Fighters At the Newton Exchange - MikeStarchuk.com Mike Starchuk - With Commuters and Surrey Fire Fighters At the Newton Exchange - MikeStarchuk.com Mike Starchuk - With Commuters and Surrey Fire Fighters At the Newton Exchange - MikeStarchuk.com

 

 

Saturday (May 2, 2015) the second Surrey firefighter in the last few months, was laid to rest as a result of his struggles with mental health issues. Firefighters and other First Responder agencies from all regions across BC, attended the service, to show their support to the family, friends and fellow firefighters, during this trying time.

The Chaplin, Lieutenant Scott Young from Coquitlam FD, led the Celebration in a way that was truly cognizant of the circumstances of the service. While the Celebration of Life was filled with good stories, there was no avoiding the “elephant in the room” which was the mental health issues that our member was challenged with.

Surrey Fire Fighters’ Local 1271 President Mike McNamara called upon the audience to ask that “we put an end to this disease we can all control, and that is the disease of social stigma. It’s time we recognize that an illness is an illness, and it doesn’t matter where it is in your body – your leg, your heart, your lungs or your brain.” Chaplain Young referred to depression as “the bastard that can be in us.”  He spoke of how we all function well and continue our productive lives – until depression takes over and changes the way in which we make decisions.

The Celebration concluded with bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and the trumpet for the Last Post, which was provided by the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Pipes and Drums. Played in perfection and well appreciated by all there, but with all due respect, as a retired Surrey firefighter, songs I do not wish to hear again for a long, long time.

Another Loss - PTSD and First Responders - MikeStarchuk.com

The loss of two Surrey firefighters in two months due to their struggles with mental health issues is numbing. There were counsellors that were on hand in the theatre. A proactive idea to provide the opportunity for those who want to express their thoughts and feelings.

The doors to WorkSafe BC, to start talking about post discharge follow-up for those with a work-associated mental health diagnosis, have been opened. Now the public “social doors” need to be opened. President McNamara said it best when he addressed the social stigma. Olympian Clara Hughes who suffered from depression created the “Let’s Talk” initiative which aimed at fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s time for Firefighters and other First Responders to start taking care of their own members in the same manner in which they serve their community – with pride, honour and respect. It’s time to come to the realization that it is OK to say “I’m not OK.”

Educational awareness will, in all likelihood, become a key component to fighting and ending this stigma. I look forward to the day when I can share that this component has been developed and put in practice. With regards to educational awareness, the National Mental Health Week runs from May 4 to May 10. Join in and participate in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 64th annual event.

For more information about Mental Health, you can go to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website: https://cmha.ca/document-category/mental-health/

If you talk about it on Social Media, you can use the Twitter hashtag #GETLOUD.

An open thank you to all of those who have helped me.  Because of Elections BC regulations, we aren’t allowed to be ‘social’ on Social Media tomorrow… but please don’t think, because this account suddenly goes silent, that we aren’t out there, trying to earn every last vote.

I appreciate all the LIKES, SHARES, and wonderful comments of support we’ve received throughout the campaign! They mean SO much to me and my team. On Election Day, please remember to contact your friends, family and neighbours, and remind them how important it is to vote.

A few shout-outs before the silence of Social Media becomes the regulatory requirement.

I want to thank all of you that I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with over the last few months. I have to let you all know that regardless of the support (one way or another) I have grown from this experience. I hope the voters of Surrey give me the opportunity to use this experience.

Thank you to the Surrey First Councillors, Candidates and Campaign Team, who have all become extended members of my family.Surrey First Councillors, Candidates and volunteers at Team Surrey First doorknocking event at The Barge in Newton - MikeStarchuk.com

I want to thank “Mike’s Campaign” team for all of their hard work and their persistence to keep me moving forward. They have been there at a moment’s notice for tasks that we wanted and needed to be done. These are the people that I am proud to call friends and will cherish taking this journey with them.

To my fellow firefighters. Words will never describe my thanks for your efforts to get me noticed. Yes. I know I did some of that on my own, but my IAFF Brothers and Sisters efforts have surpassed my wildest dreams. Together we have made firefighting synonymous with public safety, as it should be. I am truly proud to be a member of the IAFF and will never forget a somewhat copied phrase I have used from many years ago and plan to continue to use, “membership has its privileges” and I’m privileged and honoured to be a member.

Lastly, to my family. They have seen the highs and lows of this campaign and offered nothing other than words of praise (sprinkled with a few swift kicks in the butt) during the past months. They understand the pressures I have been under and I couldn’t have done this without their support. Love you all!

Consider this a “good luck” chain letter and consider calling 10 people and letting them know that the Surrey First TEAM is the best choice for all of Surrey and you get great luck! Add the Surrey First Education team and you get super great luck!

Thank you.

Mike

 Mike Starchuk - celebrating Dussehra at the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society in Surrey - MikeStarchuk.com

In May 2014, at the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ convention, over 175 delegates from 41 BC Fire Fighter Union Locals, bestowed Mike Starchuk with an Honourary Membership to the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (BCPFFA).

This honour was in recognition of his years of selfless work on behalf of his fellow fire fighters throughout the Province of British Columbia and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Starchuk has worked tirelessly in assisting fire fighters with resolving work related injuries and in improving and maintaining their overall health and wellness.  Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association President Mike McNamara stated, “Mike has been their anchor with his work and support of firefighters and their families, when they needed it most.”

You can read more about Mike’s selfless work on behalf of BC Fire Fighters, his community activism, and long history of volunteering and community involvement, here: https://surreyfirefighters.com/starchuk-bcpffa-honourary/

On November 3rd, Mike Starchuk and the Surrey First Team were honoured to be endorsed by the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, because of their support for Fire Fighters, and public safety issues.

 BC Professional Fire Fighters' Association endorses Mike Starchuk, Linda Hepner and the Surrey First TeamYou can read the full text of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association endorsement of Mike and the Surrey First Team, here: BCPFFA endorsement

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(It should be noted that this endorsement is in addition to the previously given endorsement by the Surrey Fire Fighters – Local 1271, of Mike Starchuk and current Surrey First City Council members)

Surrey Fire Fighters support Mike Starchuk and the re-election of current Surrey First City Coucillors

 

 

This past Thanksgiving long weekend, there was an event that caused some concern, started by a few politically motivated and misinformed citizens of Surrey. Complaints were made to City staff at a time when they should have been allowed to enjoy this long weekend with their families.

CKNW reported on the so-called controversy. They have a job to do with regards to covering issues and stories they feel their audience wish to hear. My intent, here, is to set the record straight for those who have heard about vintage fire trucks being used at one of my meet-and-greet events.

I want to start by sending my apologies to the City of Surrey Fire Chief for the calls he has had to answer. Never in my wildest imagination would I have believed some taxpayers would think the Fire Chief would allow on-duty staff, to be taken out of the staffing requirements, for political reasons. The public should feel confident that the Code of Conduct that holds all City Employees accountable, would not permit on-duty resources to be used in the way it was suggested they were being used, this past Saturday.

Mike Starchuk & Surrey voters at Guildford Town Centre meet & greetWith regards to the issue of anger that was raised by one of the callers – for the sixty minutes we were at the Guildford bus loop, I assure you, that most everyone who passed by, engaged congenially with the candidates and posed for pictures with the trucks. The pictures that are posted on my sites and Surrey First’s sites, show that those who were there, were engaged with the candidates and were happy to be there.

 

So…

The story isn’t about a few squeaky wheels.

The story is about the opportunity for voters to meet, interact with, and engage our candidates, who took time out of their busy schedules to be available.

The story is about the Fire Fighters who came out on their day off to set up and assist with the event on a long weekend.

The story is about members of the public who shared their thoughts, concerns, and personal stories about life in Surrey.

The story is about how the Fire Fighters’ Association rescued the vintage truck and trailer from the scrap yard and restored it at no cost to the City. This allowed those there on Saturday, to view this wonderfully-restored antique and have the opportunity to take a photo with a pretty special antique vehicle.

The story is about the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association supporting my efforts to be elected as Councillor in the upcoming election.

The story is about the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association supporting the elected Surrey First Councillors who have taken Fire Fighter staffing levels from bare bone minimums which were unsafe ten years ago, to today where Surrey Fire Services have proper staffing levels and can function in a faster and safer way.

The REAL story is about Surrey First’s ongoing efforts to put the safety of Surrey Firefighters, and the public they serve, in a far better and safer position, than ever before.

Vera LeFranc & a Surrey family at Guildford Town Centre meet & greet

My family moved from Vancouver to Surrey before I began school and settled into a small rancher on a gravel road in Newton. I attended public school at FD Sinclair, Bear Creek and Newton Elementary, before going to William Beagle Junior Secondary and Princess Margaret Senior Secondary. I attended a “temporary” campus of Douglas College that was located in the 9200 block of 140th Street, after leaving high school.

Athletics played a large part in my youth with time spent in community organizations as well as school athletics. I played some football with North Surrey Minor Football and baseball with Newton, Kennedy Surrey, North Delta and Whalley. A great deal of time was spent later on playing racquetball in the (then) two racquet clubs (Surrey Racquet Centre and Pacific Coast Racquet Centre) that were located in the City at the time. As well, tennis on the City’s courts and golf on the courses in Surrey.

Mike Starchuk - Surrey City Council - MikeStarchuk.comWhen I lived at home on the West side of King George Highway, my neighbour, Ken Field, who lived across the street, was a Captain with the Surrey Fire Department and would often talk about his job and the satisfaction of serving the public. The talks became longer and more frequent as I was extremely interested in this profession. And – at the same time – it gave me the opportunity to “run into” his oldest daughter. Yes, the daughter that would eventually marry me and share our 32 year journey.

After moving out of the parent’s house, I moved to the Guildford area where I settled into my first apartment. At that time (September 1980), I began as a Paid on Call volunteer firefighter at the fire hall on the corner of 108th Avenue and 146th Street. That is where I got the “taste” of what it was like to serve the community. Unfortunately, by the time my pager would go off and I would leave the apartment, drive through a long and winding parking lot and travel to this fire hall, the fire trucks would be gone. Standbys, while they served a purpose, were not what I was looking for, so back to Newton, and closer to the fire hall, I went.

Mid May of 1982, I started my professional career with the Surrey Fire Department. I was twenty-three years old, full of energy, and had no idea where this path would lead me. A few months later, after finishing my training period, I married the “gal” across the street and we settled into a new location on the corner of 70A and 135th Street. A year later we would finally own our own house on the same street we both grew up on – 81st Avenue – one block off King George Highway.

Two kids started to run around that place and were enrolled in the same Elementary school we went to. The street had changed and was no longer the place to play ball hockey or bounce a ball. We moved to the east side of King George Highway where the kids would be able to play in a cul de sac and walk to their elementary and high schools.

Once we were settled in this new location, I was able to become more involved with the events of the Fire Fighters’ Association and with our children`s activities. They were both heavily involved with school sports and activities along with community sporting organizations. As they grew with their organizations, I grew with them. I participated on the Board of Directors in Kennedy Surrey Little League during a time where that league produced 3 national Little League championships. At the same time, I was the “stats guy” on one of the Surrey Storm girls’ fastball team, that also achieved national championship status.

Mike Starchuk - with the other Variety Club Raquetball Tournament Organizers - 1997While I was participating in the kid’s athletic endeavours, I began to build the relationships with the School Board, Parks and Recreation, and the local media to promote our events. At the same time, I began to get more involved as a firefighter in the community and began to develop relationships with other community organizations. I began to volunteer time with two charitable organizations that were dear to my heart. The Variety Club of BC and the newly created Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society.

I got involved with Variety Club prior to the creation of the Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society, which allowed me to bring ideas to both groups to make them both more influential and affective. I served on the Annual Variety Club Racquetball Tournament Committee for 18 years. We went from raising $10,000 over a two-day event to raising $35,000 in just one day. I cannot tell you how gratifying and rewarding that was.

During this time of my life, my now father in-law had been diagnosed with cancer, which he eventually beat. However, the issue of cancer and how it related to firefighters had become a focus in my life. I stepped up and took on another role within our Association, to look at the health and safety aspects of our firefighters. It wasn`t a question to me of WHY we were being diagnosed with cancer, it was a question of HOW could we prevent it?

That led me to new roles within the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association which, in turn, provided further health and safety opportunities with the BC Professional Fire Fighter Association (BCPFFA). I was in the position to build relationships with the people who created policy and processes for firefighters who were diagnosed with cancer. As an organization (BCPFFA), we lobbied the government for legislation to protect the families of those firefighters who were diagnosed with the cancers that were directly associated with the “job” of firefighting. This relieved the families of the arduous process of filing a WCB claim, so they could concentrate on the healing and treatment process. I am proud to still be a part of this organization, and was presented with an Honourary Membership to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association this past May.

Mike Starchuk & Surrey Fire Fighters - engaging voters and talking about transit options, at the Newton Exchange in Surrey - MikeStarchuk.comAt the end of my career with the Fire Department, I was in the position of Chief Fire Prevention Officer (CFPO), which had me working with our City Hall Departments, the business community and those building and developing new projects in the City. In this role I was responsible for ensuring the buildings our firefighters were entering were safe for them and those who occupied them. We had to ensure that those new buildings were compliant with Building Code and Fire Code provisions. I was also in the position to look at some of the residential home issues, specifically the issues surrounding illegal suites and residential recovery homes.

The contacts and relationships I have build over the past 18 months, while working in the CFPO position, have provided me with additional insight as to the needs of those living and working in the city. The issues that came up on a monthly basis, that I felt I had solutions with merit, were not finding sustainable resolutions. I saw solutions that could not get to the proper forum for those in the City to take action. I saw the need to step away, retire early from the Fire Department and pursue a different avenue to affect change.

Back to the beginning – Who is Mike Starchuk? I am a person who has spent nearly his entire life, living in the Newton area of Surrey, pursuing a career of public service to those who need assistance in Surrey and other areas of BC. I am an advocate for those less fortunate in Surrey and an Advocate for injured Workers. I understand the need for economic growth in order to sustain the needs of those in Surrey in the future. I have built relationships with those people – and the organizations and affiliations that can assist those people who require it. I can identify problems and successes. I can provide solutions to mend the issues that exist in Surrey, and provide solutions to maintain and grow the things that Surrey is doing right.

Next post…Where Am I Going?