For the first time in its history, Estevan Fire Rescue Service (EFRS) held an awards supper on Saturday. Promotions, awards for 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years of service, provincial and federal long service awards along with special recognitions by the Estevan Firefighters Association were handed out that festive night.
Justin Herod and Mike Wock received helmets as a part of their promotion to firefighters. Geoff Thiessen accepted the role of the chaplain in addition to his firefighter's duties and was presented with a chaplain badge. Mike Olson was promoted to lieutenant and was presented with helmet, badge and stripes. Lincoln Empey and Brandon Frank were promoted to captains and also received helmets, badges and stripes.
The promotion part of the ceremony was followed by the presentation of awards for years of service. Ten-year awards were handed to firefighters Monty Blomberg and Matt Clausen, along with Captains Empey, Brandon Frank and Kyle Luke and Lieutenant Olson. Fire Chief Dale Feser received a 15-year award. Lieutenant Chad Perrault was awarded for over 20 years of service. Captain Pete Fedyk was presented with a 30-year award. And two firefighters Dean Nagel and Victor Frank were awarded for over 40 years of serving the community.
“I always said from the very start that once I lose the rush when pagers went, I’ll retire. I’m still getting the rush,” said Nagel, who’s been a firefighter for 43 years. “I still get excited when the phone goes.”
Despite it progressively getting busier throughout his years of experience, Nagel still loves this part of his life and enjoys working with new members, who are always curious and motivated. Nagel, who is now an operator, also keeps participating in bigger training including the recent school bus extrication.
Victor Frank, who’s been with the Estevan fire department longer than anybody else, joined the crew when he was 16 years old, and said it wasn’t tough then and to this day he still really enjoys it.
“Knowing that you are going to help somebody more than anything (keeps me going) and helping the City of Estevan,” said Victor. “It’s a big family and we are a part of that family.”
Victor noted that the adrenaline rush he still gets every time a call comes as well as evolving equipment are two other things that make this work so special for him, and he hopes to continue.
“I would love to put my 50 years in,” said Victor.
Both men recalled the fire that burned the Trinity Lutheran Church to the ground in winter of 1984 as one of the biggest fires in their careers.
Mayor Roy Ludwig, Feser and Deputy Fire Chief Rick Davies handed out provincial and federal long service awards. Captain Fedyk received a provincial medal for 25 years of service and a 30-year federal bar. Lieutenant Perrault was granted a federal medal for 20 years. Victor Frank and Nagel received federal bars for 40 years of service.
“The City of Estevan and Estevan Fire Rescue Service are very lucky and proud to have such committed, well-trained and upstanding people serving and protecting the city,” said Feser.
Estevan Firefighters Association came up with its own joking personalized awards. Victor Frank was named the Driver of the Year after he had the truck safely pulled out of the ditch. John Wells received the title of Brown-Noser of the Year for ensuring that there is always something sweet for the rest of the crew. Stephen McLaren received Darwin Award for jumping off of the train to respond to a call, and Matt Clausen received the Knock Out Award for taking a mirror off an RCMP cruiser while leaving the scene. Wells, Jolene Waddle, Wock and Tyler Stead were called the Curling Funspiel Champions.
After a great night, the organizer committee members expressed a hope that this kind of celebration will become a good tradition for the EFRS in years to come.