Thursday , 29 July 2021
The Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority presented service medals for the long-standing contribtuions of BRFA members on Thursday.

BRFA hand out long-standing service medals; Ferguson becomes 2nd female BRFA Fire Chief

The Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority presented service medals for the long-standing contributions of BRFA members on Thursday. 

“It means an awful lot because you look back and time goes and doesn’t wait for anybody. It’s a job I have so much respect for. Everybody who has taken the job on as a firefighter – because you never know – it’s like a policeman. You get out in the morning and you don’t know when you’re coming back. It’s just part of life. You have to do it. But I think it’s great. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it,” said Rolland Inman.

Inman was one of 28 recipients presented with a medal for exemplary service on Thursday at the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority annual ceremony in Goodridge.

He received the 40 year medal from the federal government for his decades in Bonnyville as a firefighter, inspector for the northeast part of the province to the Alberta Fire Commissioner’s Office, and later the Fire Guardian – a journey that started back in 1956.

“We’re going way back, not much different than horse and buggy. And now we’ve got fancy fire trucks and all that. It’s so much different,” he said.

“It’s not an easy job to do. I guarantee you it’s not and like I said, if somebody would have told me in 1956 that you’re going to have 47 years or better with fire service, ‘that’s it. No, you’re crazy.’ Well, I did and I don’t regret it at all.”

‘Two cows in the basement’

Brian Chyz from the Ardmore Fire Department received recognition from the province for his 40 years of service as well.

He had a simple reason why he started volunteering.

“Hopefully there’s somebody there if I’m not home to my place if it burns, an accident, and somebody is there to help. There’s not enough people in small towns, shiftwork and stuff, oil field, so you just do what you can do when you can do it. Somebody’s there to do it when you’re gone,” said Chyz.

After all these years Chyz has been to many different scenes, even the bizarre.

“It’s getting stranger every call we get. We got a call three years ago to two cows in the basement. And nobody had a clue when we were leaving the fire hall what we were going to. They fell in an old house and fell on the basement. But you don’t know when you’re going out with some of this stuff,” he said.

“We saved one cow. The other one died, it had been in there too long. But I mean, you fly by the seat of your pants, figuring out what to do with some of this stuff.”

BRFA’s second female Fire Chief

History was made on Thursday night as Kim Ferguson officially became the Fire Chief of the Station 6 La Corey Fire Department and just the second female Fire Chief in the BRFA’s history.

Ferguson takes the reins from Al Donald.

“It’s a pretty significant accomplishment. The first female fire chief was actually in La Corey also,” she said.

“I started back in November of 2015…Just being able to give back to the community. The camaraderie that we have is like nothing else.”

Recognizing service

Firefighters and emergency services members were handed Exemplary Services Medals from the Canadian and Alberta Governments for the decades they’ve spent protecting Bonnyville and the region.

Provincial honours were given for 12 year, 22 year, 32 year and 40 years of service and federal medals for 20, 30, and 40 years of service.

Here’s the full list of winners.

Alberta Emergency Services Medal

12 year medal

  • Avalon Jewels
  • Robert MacDonald
  • Dallas Mielke
  • Shaun Mielke
  • Sandra Schmid
  • Ernest Snyder
  • Kevin Vallee
  • Eileen Slevinsky-Ziegler

22 year medal

  • Janice Demers
  • John Michalyk

32 year medal

  • Walter Smyl
  • John Michalyk

40 year medal

  • Brian Chyz
  • John Michalyk

Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal

20 year medal

  • Nick Drobot

30 year medal

  • William Griffith
  • Dennis Hagen
  • Elsie Hagen
  • Ben Kwiatkowski
  • Donald Kwiatkowski
  • Laurence Kwiatkowski
  • Gerald Mathiot
  • Jack Mathiot
  • Patrick Mathiot
  • Henry Pratch
  • Pearl Pratch
  • Mike Ritcher
  • Felix Smyl

40 year medal

  • Rolland Inman

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.