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Halton Hills' First Responder Family - Meet the McKnights

Captain Steve McKnight grew up in Acton and dedicated his life to protecting the surrounding district as a firefighter. Growing up, two of Steve’s neighbours were volunteer firefighters, “I would watch them fly by my house all the time and go to the Firehall,” shared Steve. At eighteen Steve started working for a local company, “the plant manager was a volunteer firefighter and he was encouraging me to sign up.” Steve continues,

“And I said you know– I am working out of town and at eighteen I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet. But in 79’ I started trying to figure out how to become a firefighter. So I ended up becoming a firefighter on February 4th, 1980 at the age of twenty.”

Now retired, Steve enjoys spending his days camping and travelling around Ontario in a mobile camper. Before his well-deserved retirement, Steve kept a pager on his person for twenty-two years which altered him when there was an emergency. “I carried a pager around the clock, sometimes I would get home from a long shift and the beeper would go off and I would go right out the door again.” The Halton Hills firefighters have three major associations that they are a part of, the Acton Firefighters Association, Georgetown Firefighters Association and the Halton Hills Firefighters Association. Steve comments, “The Acton Association has been running the fireworks for coming up on fifty years and we have been running the Santa Claus parade for over twenty-five years. So it was not just firefighting, we were doing a lot of things within the community.”

Steve’s two children Rachel and Darryl McKnight are also involved in volunteer firefighting. Steve’s daughter Rachel attended university and received her bachelor of honours and later attended the EMT Humber program. For three years Rachel was a part-time paramedic in the Durham region and later worked full-time in Toronto. During this period, Rachel was also a volunteer firefighter in Alliston. Now Rachel resides in Joyceville and works for paramedic services and is a volunteer firefighter with the Kingston Firehall.

Steve’s son Darryl has been a part-time firefighter for Halton Hills for the last fourteen years. “I was kind of surprised when they wanted to get involved in firefighting,” comments Steve, “I didn’t say to him (Darryl) to become a firefighter, but he approached me and told me he wanted to join.” On top of being a part-time firefighter for the Acton station, Darryl is a full-time electrician in Cambridge. Both of Steve’s children are extremely dedicated to their fire halls and their careers.

Photo: Darryl, Steve and Rachel McKnight

Darryl McKnight tells Acton UP, “I felt inspired to pursue firefighter for a couple reasons. Obviously watching my Dad respond to calls within our community was a big inspiration. Day or night he put himself out there to help those around us in any way he could. Secondly the camaraderie of the department has always felt like a second home and family. Growing up around the hall and the firefighters who worked there, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear the stories and experience the friendships they’ve built with each other and I knew one day I wanted to be apart of that.”

To those who are interested in becoming firefighters, Steve has this to say, “best job in the world,” he continues, “and the second-best job in the world is retirement.”

Steve’s Captain position within the Acton station means he was in charge of the fire crew and their duties. He would supervise, direct and lead the team all the while trying to save lives. Steve officially retired from his position on February, 4th 2020 after forty years of working as a firefighter. Steve shares that he does miss the job from time to time and all of the fun and excitement it brought to his life. However, he is enjoying his retirement and spending his time outside and enjoying some well-deserved relaxation. There is no doubt that through his children, his legacy will continue.

Photo: Rachel, Steve and Darryl McKnight


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