Recently, Morden Fire and Rescue (MFR) got together to recognize the service of its members at their annual Appreciation Supper.
MFR Chief Andy Thiessen highlighted four of the longest serving members recognized at the event.
"We were able to honour 4 gentlemen that have been on the department for quite some time. We had three guys that were 30 years plus and one member that's 25 years plus. It was very exciting for us on the department. In fact, I mentioned when they're walking off stage, 'Well, there goes 120 years of experience.'"
Thiessen shared more about those recognized.
"The 25 year was Jeff Giesbrecht. He started out on our department, like we all did, as a frontline firefighter, and moved up the ranks. He's now one of my Senior Pump Operators. Terry Nelson, he's one of our Training Officers at the moment, one of our instructors. Pete Peters, he was my Captain for almost 15 years and is now our safety officer. He's kind of covered us from one end to the other. And Paul Warkentine, he's kept all of our equipment in top shape for the last 25 years."
Thiessen said the wealth of knowledge these members pass on to the others with less experience is invaluable. For example, their knowledge of structures in the area, knowing the floor plan and how they are built they are able to share that with those coming up in the ranks. He noted learning is always better to learn on the job than from a book.
With this length of service, Thiessen, who has served 42 years - 25 as Chief, talked about the future of the 35-member team.
"The succession part is mainly with the Pump Operators. They're such an important cog in the wheel that people that come in after them need to be flawless in what they're doing. I know these two guys that just got their awards this past fall here, I don't anticipate them quitting anytime really soon, but we definitely need to have people coming up underneath that can take over when they so choose. So, it is a thing that we have to keep in the background of our minds all the time. There's no question."
Two retirees were also given signed helmets by the members, Harv Peters (24 years) and Ed Friesen (16 years).
When asked the secret to the longevity of the membership, Thiessen confirmed they are a family.
"Hopefully we create an environment where they are appreciated and enjoy being here. I think it's just the character of the people we try to bring on, they are that type of a character, where they want to give back to their community. They want to make sure their fellow neighbour is looked after, and that's what shows up. You get those guys that are here for a long period of time."