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Innisfail’s finest receive long service awards

Mayor Jean Barclay extends recognition of service to 10 local firefighting heroes
MVT Innisfail fire long service Awards - Dec 21 2021
Innisfail mayor Jean Barclay handed 10 local firefighting heroes their deserved long service medals and bars on Dec. 21. Photos courtesy of the Town of Innisfail

INNISFAIL – It has been a busy time for the town’s finest.

Local firefighters with the Innisfail Fire Department have not only been attending to regular duties during the holiday season they have been courageously on the front lines for many long and bitterly cold hours battling destructive motel and hotel blazes.

The first one was on Dec. 20 at Innisfail’s Blue Bird Motel, while the second was in Bowden on Jan. 1 to support other regional firefighters with the devastating blaze at the Bowden Hotel.

But Innisfail’s firefighting heroes were not forgotten.

On Dec. 21, Innisfail Mayor Jean Barclay awarded five local firefighters with Canadian Municipal Long-Service Medals and Bars.

The mayor also awarded five others with service awards from the Town of Innisfail. Because of the COVID pandemic, it was the first time in two years that a full slate of local firefighters has been honoured.

“Obviously we are very appreciative of the fire department, and the horrible temperatures they are out working in right now is beyond imagination,” said Barclay, adding she was “honoured” to be asked to hand out the awards. “And to sit with them afterwards and hear about how they worked at the Blue Bird Motel fire. And just the coordination of this team. You see the camaraderie as well. We are very fortunate to have such a professional bunch of people caring for us 24-seven.

“Fires don’t care what day it is. There are no days off,” added Barclay. “We appreciate them very much, especially through the holidays with everything they have been through. It has been a very busy time for them.”

Gary Leith, chief of the Innisfail Fire Department, is also proud of his firefighting team, noting the huge personal sacrifices members recently made during the holidays.

“As it has been highlighted over the last couple of weeks; spending 18 hours on New Year’s Day supporting other communities and extinguishing fires just before Christmas in our own community, as well as attending numerous responses in between, whether it be medical or motor vehicle collisions, they were just two larger incidents that occurred over the holidays,” said Leith.

“They are volunteers, and they make those responses and leave their families, and fortunately families support them as well to go and do that.”

The five Innisfail firefighters that received Canadian Municipal Long-Service Medals and Bars on Dec. 21 include:

•    deputy chief Dennis Fehr: 35-year Service Bar

•    assistant deputy chief Clark Maldaner: 30-year Medal

•    pump operator Dan Urban: 35-year Service Bar

•    pump operator Ron Huseby: 35-year Service Bar

•    former chief and current firefighter John Syroid: 3rd Bar added to his 45-year Service Medal

The five other firefighters that earned service awards from the Town of Innisfail are:

•    assistant deputy chief Tim Ainscough: 20-year Service Award

•    captain Shawn Jacobson: 10-year Service Award

•    firefighter Shawn Ludlow: 10-year Service Award

•    firefighter Eric Peppinck: 5-year Service Award

•    firefighter Rhonda Turnquist: 5-year Service Award

Johnnie Bachusky

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