The Winkler Fire Department held its annual awards gala Wednesday night, recognizing its members for their service, and the many sacrifices that comes with protecting the community.
Numerous service awards, and medals and awards of special recognition were given. Twenty year member, Lieutenant Chris Kalansky was presented with the Exemplary Service medal for 20 years of exemplary service.
"I'm deeply honoured to have been on a fire department for this length of time and been able to serve side by side with a great group of people," said Kalansky. "We have approximately 35 firefighters in our department, and over the last 20 years we've probably seen over a hundred come and go, and it has been and honour and privilege to serve beside them and help out where you can in the community."
When he first moved to Winkler, Kalsansky says it was a co-worker that initially convinced him to join the fire department, which was the start of his involvement in emergency services. Kalansky is also the Deputy Police Chief for the City of Winkler.
"I've enjoyed being a part of the fire department for almost twenty-one and a half years now, and that led into other avenues I was able to explore as well, but it all started with the fire department."
Winkler Fire Chief Richard Paetzold says the department is made up of volunteer members, and they are all individuals who are passionate about serving the community. He adds their commitment to serve, is also a "sacrifice all around."
"Every one of these people that received awards and medals tonight all have a day job that puts food on the table for their families, and this is their part-time job and a lot of it is volunteer," says Paetzold. "Basically, they take time away from their family to serve their community, and during the day, we have employers that give up their employees time to serve the community."
Paetzold says the people that are on the department are there to serve the community and want to be the best at what they do. "Them being on here isn't driven by money. They're here because they want to serve in something they are passionate about, and I think it's fitting that once a year we recognize that contribution in a small way."
During Wednesday's banquet, the "unsung heroes" of the department were also recognized. Paetzold says those "unsung heroes" are the families left behind each time a member gets called to respond.
The following is the list of awards and medals given out Wednesday.
Winkler Fire Department Years of Service Awards:
* Firefighter Albert Dueck - 10 years
* Firefighter Jonathan Wall - 10 years
* Firefighter Kevin Oestreicher - 15 Years
* Lieutenant Terry Fehr - 15 Years
* Firefighter Brad Friesen - 15 Years
* Lieutenant John Klassen - 25 years
* Captain Ernie Froese - 30 years
* Lieutenant Abe Dueck - 30 years
Award for 52 years of service to retired Station Captain Ike Dyck - from Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen
MAFC Long service awards
The MAFC Long service medal & bars are offered to eligible firefighters in Manitoba by the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs for 25 & 35 & 45 years of continuous service.
* Lieutenant Allan Derksen - 25 years
* Captain Peter Neufeld - 35 years
* Communications/Firefighter Ken Wieler - 35 years
* Retired Station Captain Ike Dyck - 45 years
Exemplary Service Awards - The Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal, honours members of a recognized Canadian fire service who have completed benchmarked years of service.
Exemplary service is characterized by good conduct, industry and efficiency.
Lieutenant Chris Kalansky - Exemplary Service medal for 20 years of exemplary service.