By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Taber Fire Department was in celebration recently as two of its volunteer firefighters received their 12 year service medal.
Lieutenant Michael Boulay and firefighter Johan Peters were the two volunteer firefighters who received these awards from the province of Alberta as a recognition for their time serving the community.
Amy West, assistant chief at the Taber Fire Department, started things off by explaining what awards the two firefighters actually received.
“Both Michael and Johan got the 12 year service medals so it’s the Province of Alberta Emergency Services Medal that you can apply for once you hit 12 years of service,” said West. “It’s just essentially saying these gentlemen have put in 12 years or more serving the community. Anyone in the 12 years or more is applicable for fire, EMS or police, it’s all emergency services in Alberta.”
Both of the volunteer firefighters were not surprised in receiving these medals.
“Well, it’s just basically when you put your time in,” said Boulay.
“At 12 years you get your medal, and at 20 years get the federal medal,” said Peters.
“Yeah, we kind of knew it was coming,” said Boulay.
Despite not being surprised, they were still on honoured to receive the medal as a sign of their service towards the community.
“It’s cool to have the medal,” said Boulay. “You can put it on your tunic and then you get a little button for your dress shirt so it shows your service on time put in.”
“I think that we’re going to a place right now where the baby boomers are all retired, and our firefighters are coming in,” said West. “For these guys they had a benchmark like 12 years that’s pretty substantial, that puts them in the senior level of our fire department at this time.”
“A lot of the guys coming on — a lot of newer members coming on,” said Boulay. “Life changes, they take a job elsewhere. So to stay on for 12 years with the fire department, it’s pretty cool. Makes you a senior member for sure.”
After this 12 year medal the next milestone that firefighters and other emergency service workers in Alberta can receive is a 20 year medal. Both Boulay and Peters discuss their plans to continue volunteering as a fire fighter to earn that 20 year medal.
“I hope to,” said Boulay. “All three of my boys are volunteering here. I think it would be pretty cool to still be volunteering and serving the community when my boys are serving under me.”
“I got one of my boys who’s really interested in it,” said Peters. “That would be cool to be on here while he is on here.”
“My oldest is 10,” said Boulay. “They can’t join until they’re 18. I got another easy 15 years if all the boys are going to serve under (me).”
Finally Boulay and Peters talked about how they first got involved in this fire department, and why they continue to volunteer.
“I mostly join to volunteer and to serve back to the community,” said Boulay. “Then once I actually realized how much involvement the fire department has within the community it was pretty cool to be a part of. They back everything from Easter time events like the kids search for the eggs down at the park, to STARS Auction. It’s pretty cool. The fire department has so many different activities even within the school systems. They have the kids come here and there’s fire extinguisher training. So it’s cool to be part of an organization, so big in the community and so many different aspects. I didn’t realize that when I joined.”
“Before I joined I knew they were always out there, but once I joined, they do a lot of stuff,” said Peters. “It’s always a lot of fun.”
“I think there is a big misconception in the town, too,” said Boulay. “A lot of places I’ll go they are like, ‘oh, how’s your full-time job at the fire department?’ Oh no, that’s just where I volunteer. I run my own business as my full-time job. There’s people that think that this is a full-time career but it’s actually just a volunteer basis. We have three full-time members here, the two assistant chiefs and the chief, but it’s made up of 30-35 volunteers a lot of the time, too.”
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