Town of Coaldale
It was an evening of celebration and awards presentations recently for a group of Coaldale volunteers who contributed over 6,900 hours to the community this year. The Coaldale and District Emergency Services held their annual banquet and awards night on Nov. 26 and recognized local firefighters for their dedication and long service.
Mark Murphy, MC for the evening and director of emergency services for the Town of Coaldale, said municipalities throughout Alberta rely on volunteers to make their municipality a true “community” that is strong and vibrant.
Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder and Little Bow MLA David Schneider were both in attendance and offered praised appreciation to the men and women who make up the service in Coaldale.
Lethbridge County representatives and Coaldale town council were also in attendance to extend their appreciation to the firefighters who have responded to over 340 calls this year with a month to go in 2016.
“When do people call us for assistance?” asked Acting Fire Chief Gary Gettman.
“It is after or when things are going terrible for them, their families or neighbours and we, as a dedicated group, respond to the call, making their day a little brighter when it is possibly the worst day they have ever had.”
“In order to do that job safely and efficiently, we must be trained properly so we can return home to our own loved ones,” he added.
Gettman said all of this is done by a group of volunteers who are prepared to respond 24-7, 365 days a year.
He praised the local businesses that allow their staff to respond to daytime calls, even when it means they have to leave in the middle of their work. He also praised the firefighters’ families for their understanding, patience and support that allows them to serve their community both day and night. The CDES currently has 330 years of combined firefighting experience among 34 members.
Among those honoured for long service were retired chief Andy Van Rijn, who was recognized for 40 years of dedicated service, 30 of those years as fire chief. Cpt. Jeff Fujita was honoured for 20 years of service. They both received Fire Services Exemplary Service Medals.
Alberta Emergency Services Medals, for 12 years of service, were presented to firefighters Michelle Stuart, who served 10 of those years with Pincher Creek, and to Jack Chalmers. The CDES honoured firefighter Vic Gyorffy and his wife, Joanne for his 30 years of dedicated service. Cpt. Roy Nickel was honoured for his 20 years of service, while Lt. Jason Laturnus was honoured for 10 years of service. Recognition was also given to firefighters Jonathon Wagenaar and Ryan Gannon, each with five years of service.
Perfect attendance awards were also handed out to firefighters Pete Velker, Greg Nishiguchi, Riley Roth, Tim Hlady, Matt Burton, Lt. Laturnus, Cpt. Holmes, Cpt. Holmes, Cpt. Craig Wilson and Cpt. Brian Winters.