Recent History – 2005
By Gary Rusak, March 22, 2005
Local firefighters had a rare moment in the spotlight on Friday evening when nine members received exemplary service medals.
“It is a great honour of mine to honour the fire department members who over the years have protected the safety of human lives,” said fire chief Shorty Smith at the beginning of the ceremony at the Super 8. “Today we have all chosen this opportunity to honour the tireless efforts of the firefighters. Each of you has served the community for 20 years or more. We remember the perils you have to face and the help you provided.”
Smith added that the ceremony had an added poignancy in the wake of the death of a 24-year-old firefighter in the Northwest Territories earlier in the week.
“We need to keep reminding ourselves that we don’t go to work, we go to war,” he said. “Our lives are at stake every time we do that. You have done the best to ensure the safety of your fellow citizens and the progress of the city. I consider it a great privilege to award each and everyone of you these medals.”
Before the presentation of the medals, Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom addressed the group.
“I think people, not willingly, take our firefighters for granted,” he said. “They don’t remember that everyday they put their lives on the line.”
Lekstrom added that the region as a whole owes a debt of gratitude for the service the firefighters provide.
“I want to tell you that each and every one of us out there is grateful for the job you do,” he said. “These awards are about a lot more than long service, they are about recognizing some contributions that you should get every day of your lives when you go to work. It says a great deal about, not just yourself, but your families for the commitment you give to our community and our region.”
Acting mayor Calvin Kruk joined Smith and Lekstrom to present the medals to each firefighter. Kruk also extended congratulations and gratitude on behalf of the city.
Rea Chapman, who began his career on July 13, 1974, received the 30 year Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal. He said he likes how the job has evolved over the years.
“I have enjoyed the job all along,” he said. “I like how it has changed over the years. There is more prevention, not just fighting fires. There are also less accidents due to drug awareness and alcohol awareness.”
Chapman wore his newly presented medal proudly and thanked the department and the city for the ceremony.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s something we haven’t done before. We got our 25 and 20 pins at city council last time, but this is even better.”