Members of the Kindersley Fire and Rescue Brigade gather for a photo at the Firefighter’s Ball on Feb. 2 at the Elks Hall. Back row (l-r): Ron Cales, Lieutenant Jeremy Otto, Nathan Ward and Adrean Palm. Middle row (l-r): Chief Ron Hope, Ret. Deputy Chief Rod Stevens, Deputy Chief Jeff Soveran, Cory Shields, Tyler Bairos, Wayne Bleile and Senior Captain David Burke. Front row (l-r): Captain Mitch Hope, Lieutenant Cody Welker, Myles Perrin, David Perrin, Olga Bersotsky, Justin Smith and Byron Ismond. Missing from photo are Ty Stevens, Greg Litvanyi and Raelyn Jackson.

Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

The community’s firefighters have gathered to celebrate their efforts, and there was no shortage of service awards being handed out to the local volunteers.

The annual Firefighter’s Ball was held on Feb. 2 at the Elks Hall. The event includes a catered meal, speeches, door prizes, raffles and entertainment, but the entertainment this year was different from other years. The attendees got to try their luck at black jack.

Dan Deiana, who along with his wife volunteered to organize the event, was the master of ceremonies for the night. He said as a former volunteer firefighter, he honours the volunteers and the bond shared by all firefighters.

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Audrey Hebert, the chief administrative officer for the Town of Kindersley, presents Senior Captain David Burke of the Kindersley Fire and Rescue Brigade with a special gift to recognize his 40 years of service. The helmet was painted by Brian Kirkness.

He noted that the Kindersley Fire & Rescue Brigade has been operating since December 1910, so it is a big accomplishment to be operating for 109 years and he congratulated the current members for their continued service. Deiana explained how the evening would work before sending tables off to get supper.

Captain David Burke, a longtime member of the brigade with more than 40 years of service, gave the toast to the spouses and his wife Carol responded with a toast to the firefighters. David, whose two sons were on hand, gave an emotional toast.

He noted that the ball was held to honour the spouses when it first started more than 30 years ago. David said the spouses know what the job entails, and they make it all possible for the firefighters to be firefighters. Carol said the support from the spouses and partners is for the benefit of everyone, and she spoke about how being left alone at various places is part of being the partner of a volunteer firefighter.

Deiana introduced the 19 members of the brigade, along with their special guests for the night. Guests included other emergency responders from the RCMP and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The guests also included members of the area’s Traumatic Events Response Team (T.E.R.T.), Town of Kindersley and Rural Municipality of Kindersley.

Chief Ron Hope delivered his annual address, and he said 2018 was a slower year for the department with only about 120 to 130 emergency calls for service. He noted that a quieter year for the department is not all bad because it means people are being safer out there.

He welcomed everyone to the banquet and he said it was an honour for him to be able to speak at the event once again as fire chief for the department. He mentioned the recent death of former Kindersley mayor Wayne Foster, who lost his battle with cancer. He said Foster sat on the fire board for several years and he has always supported the brigade, so people paused for a moment of silence in his honour.

The chief said the brigade was dispatched every three days on average in 2018 and with a staff of 19 members, there is no other shift to switch out members. He said the staff and crew push on if they are tired or not. He noted that the role comes with an element of danger, but it is a close group of firefighters.

“At the end of the day, we stand together as one,” he said, recognizing the brigade’s members stand strong and they continue to fight. “That fight may be at the scene as we battle the fire or a race against time to extract (a vehicle) occupant that desperately needs medical attention.”

Hope spoke about the partnership and relationship with the RCMP and EMS. A strong emergency services team has been created in the community through co-operation and support, but it is good to know they have each other’s back.

He also referred to the support emergency responders get from the T.E.R.T. team when they need it. The chief thanked local municipalities for their support, and he said the commitment allows the brigade to do its job. Changes will include new equipment, but also a new fire hall for 2019, he said.

Other speakers included Staff Sergeant Ray Blais of the Kindersley RCMP, Jade Carlson of EMS, Michelle Weber of T.E.R.T., Deputy Reeve Lionel Story of the RM of Kindersley, and Audrey Hebert, chief administrative officer for the Town of Kindersley.

Several service awards and gifts were presented to the members. Lieutenants Jeremy Otto and Cody Welker, and member Ron Cales received awards for five years of service. Senior Captain David Burke was recognized for 40 years of service.

The Town of Kindersley had a service medal designed to award the service of members due to a gap in years when they are recognized. Chief Hope, Ret. Deputy Chief Rod Stevens, who also received a retirement gift, Deputy Chief Jeff Soveran, Captain Burke and members Myles Perrin and Wayne Bleile received the award.

Volunteer firefighters also qualify for the Exemplary Services Medal, an award from the Governor General’s office, after 20 years of service with at least 10 years of risk. Bleile has received his medal. Recipients of the Exemplary Services Medal are able to get a new bar added for every 10 years of service, and Captain Burke received his second bar for 40 years of service with the brigade.