Skip to content

New recruits are proud to be part of Estevan's fire department

Andrew Barr, Annie France Bizier, Ben Brokenshire, Cam Sharp and Cody Thul recently joined the Estevan Fire Rescue Service.
Firefighter Group photo
The Estevan Fire Rescue Service boasts a dedicated team, including new firefighters Annie France Bizier, right, Ben Brokenshire, third from right, and Andrew Barr, sixth from right. Other members are, back row, from left, office assistant Rhonda Gillespie, firefighters Mallory Cappelle, Nolan LaCoste, Tyler Stead, Mike Wock, Jeff Kuchinka, Jonathan Nixon, Victor Frank and Amanda Minchin. Front row, Lieutenant Chad Perrault, Captain Peter Fedyk, Deputy Chief Kyle Luc, Chief Rick Davies, Captain Brandon Frank, Captain Lincoln Empey, Lieutenant Mike Olson. Missing are Jordan Baun, Justin Herod, Stephen McLaren, Matt Clausen, Cam Sharp, Cody Thul and John Wells. Sharp and Thul are also new.

ESTEVAN — Five new recruits have joined the Estevan Fire Rescue Service (EFRS) this year, and they have relished the opportunity to serve the community.  

Andrew Barr, Annie France Bizier, Ben Brokenshire, Cam Sharp and Cody Thul say they have had great experiences thus far.

Seeing a different side of Estevan

Barr said being part of the fire department gave him a chance to meet new people and get involved in the community. 

“I’ve seen a different side of the community than I was used to, and that’s been pretty good,” said Barr. 

An enjoyable experience that he cited was going to one of the elementary schools to perform a spray down of the children at the end of a sports day. 

“We’ll spray the water in the air and the kids have a great time, and you can really see and feel the sense of the community. I didn’t realize what I was missing until I was part of it,” said Barr.

He has been urging his roommate – who, like Barr, isn’t from Estevan – to join the EFRS.

Barr said he thought about joining the department for years, but he didn’t know much about fighting fires. And while he wanted the sense of camaraderie and community, he found it’s a cool experience, knowing he makes a positive impact while using big trucks, great tools and other equipment.  

Barr and the other new recruits were recently in Wynyard for the Saskatchewan Volunteer Fire Fighters’ Association’s fall training school, where they learned the basics of personal protective equipment and fire science. Next will be the self-contained breather apparatus.  

Bizier’s reason for joining stems from her husband’s background in the military.

“Working so closely with the military, I just really missed that brotherhood, so I guess I was looking to be part of an organization that did something good for society, and just having that family feel to it,” said Bizier.  

The fraternal element of the fire department has exceeded her expectations. Everyone with more experience has been great at offering advice and education at every opportunity. 

The new recruits have all been very supportive of each other, too.  

Enjoying the camaraderie

Bizier has never been part of a fire department before, but with how things have been going since joining in April, she has found it to be a special experience.

“Everyone at the hall has just been so accepting and so welcoming, so it has been a really good experience.”   

In terms of training, the new additions have learned how to use the different trucks and the other equipment. They need to know which situation is right for each truck. And they have learned fire dynamics and how to put on their personal protective equipment, which she said is huge, and how get water from a hydrant.

“A lot of things, it’s all teamwork, and I guess that’s what makes this job so different from many other jobs,” said Bizier.  

Looking to give back

Brokenshire has lived in Estevan for his entire life. The community has given him so much, and he thought it was time to give back. 

“It’s an amazing experience. You learn lots. You see lots of people and you get to do lots of things that I never get to do in my normal life,” said Brokenshire.

The past few months have been a learning experience. He admits he didn’t know there was so much to learn from a scientific perspective, but it’s great to have all of the information.

“I’ve learned a lot about fire dynamics, how things work and just about a lot of the infrastructure in town, and how there’s a lot more things in our day-to-day lives that are related to firefighting from a safety aspect than most people would ever realize.” 

The other firefighters have proven to be very welcoming and he couldn’t imagine being part of a better team. And the group of recruits will serve their community very well.  

“I hope to be a lifelong member, if it’s at all possible.”  

Bringing experience

Thul brings experience to the department, as he was a firefighter in his hometown of Manor. He joined the Manor department at age of 19, and remained a firefighter in that community for 15 years until he moved to Estevan three years ago.  

“It was something that I’ve always enjoyed doing, and I figured it would be a good way to meet some new people. And I’ve heard good things about Estevan Fire Rescue,” said Thul.

His uncle was the fire chief in Manor for a long time, he said.  

That experience has helped him when called to grass and structure fires, but they didn’t handle collisions in Manor. Departments in Carlyle and Redvers tended to those calls.  

“It’s definitely an awesome learning experience coming to Estevan with all of this remarkable equipment, and just the diversity of calls that we do here with the city fire department. It’s definitely quite a bit different from what I envisioned,” said Thul.

Mike Olson, who is one of Thul’s co-workers, has been part of the EFRS for years.

The Estevan Fire Rescue Service boasts really professional firefighters and the equipment is excellent, Thul said.

“It’s kind of like a big family,” said Thul. “We do lots of stuff together and everyone gets along. It’s great and I really enjoy it.” 

Sharp was unavailable for comment.  

Happy to have them

Fire Chief Rick Davies said the new recruits have all be very ambitious to learn. They will be given a one-year probation, and after that year, if it’s working out well and they have integrated with the team and completed the necessary training, they will become an official part of the team. 

Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Luc added the actual program they go through has 55 hours of training and one full year of bi-weekly training nights. Training with the firefighters allows them to integrate into the team and get to know the other firefighters and officers.  

The five new recruits also bolstered the EFRS’s numbers.

“We’re still probably going to be looking at a few more, probably come spring, and get our numbers us to the high 20s,” said Davies. 

If somebody wants to be a member of the fire department, they should be a team player with a desire to help the community. Being available after hours and being willing to take extra training also helps. 

“There’s no special training needed. We’ll supply all the training. They just have to be willing to learn and willing to be part of the team,” said Davies.