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Photos: Estevan Fire Rescue Service celebrates its members

The Estevan Fire Rescue Service held its third annual Awards and Appreciation Banquet on March 4 at the Estevan Exhibition Hall. 

ESTEVAN — The Estevan Fire Rescue Service held its third annual Awards and Appreciation Banquet on March 4 at the Estevan Exhibition Hall. 

Members were recognized for years of service and their work was celebrated during a festive supper.

The award night was first introduced in 2020, but then the pandemic put the new tradition on pause until last year. Estevan Fire Chief Rick Davies said they hope the awards banquet will continue as an annual event created "to show a little bit of prestige to our people".

This year, firefighter driver/operator Victor Frank received a 45 Years of Service Award. Other members awarded were Lieutenant Chad Perrault, 25 Years of Service Award; Captain Lincoln Empey and firefighter Matt Clausen, 15 Years of Service Awards; and fire assistant Rhonda Gillespie, 10 Years of Service Award.

The Estevan Firefighters Association (EFA) also handed out their annual awards during the night. Firefighter Annie-France Bizier received a Brown Noser of the Year Award, and Empey was presented with the 2022 Best Attendance Award.

"We started [our Awards and Appreciation Banquet tradition] with the recognition of years of service. We just wanted to put a little bit more prestige behind it … We had people that would put quite a few years of service in, so we wanted to make it a little bit more prestigious. But that's about all we had for prestige. Then we'd always have kind of the fun, mockery type of awards with the Firefighters’ Association awards," Davies explained.

In previous years the EFA also had a Driver of the Year Award, "celebrating" members that were involved in some kind of an incident while in service. This year there were no nominations in that category. There also used to be a Curling Champions Awards, but no curling events were held in 2022.

As for the Brown Noser this year, Davies noted that while it's a jocose award, this year's recipient is actually a great and eager member of their service.

"Annie Bizier was the recipient this year. And she's very driven to learn. And she's always here, first with the hand up to help with public events and that kind of thing. So that's where it stemmed from for her," Davies explained.

To finish off the evening ceremony, Estevan Fire Rescue presented two new annual awards, which came from nominations by fellow department members.

"With the recent passing of Dean Nagel, who was an active member, and the previous passing of Neil Kish, who was also an active member, we were kicking around the ideas and different ways to keep their memory around and looking for ways to honour those guys," Davies said. "So, when we were planning our awards banquet this year, we had come up with the two different awards."

Dean Nagel was a firefighter driver/operator, and the award named after him recognizes the achievements of other firefighters. Neil Kish was an officer with the EFRS, and the award named after him recognizes the work of other officers.

"We just thought it'd be prestigious awards … Some of the criteria we looked at were … the integrity, communication [skills], flexibility and adaptability, their dedication throughout the year, their willingness to be a good team player, extra time. [We looked for] somebody that stands out above and beyond for that year. So we reached out to the group as a whole, and let them nominate anybody that they feel was [deserving] for the year 2022, that's where we started,” said Davies.

“And then myself, Kyle [Luc, deputy fire chief] and some of the officers that weren't involved went through the critiques and, from that list, whoever stood out the most was chosen as the winner.”

Empey received the inaugural Neil Kish Memorial Officer of the Year Award, and firefighter Tyler Stead became the first recipient of the Dean Nagel Memorial Firefighter of the Year Award. These two awards will be presented to deserving firefighters and officers annually from now on.

The promotion of several EFRS members was also celebrated during the event. Bizier, M. Andrew Barr, Ben Brokenshire and Cam Sharp were promoted from probationary firefighters to firefighters. Mike Wock and Justin Herod were promoted from firefighters to lieutenants. Tyler Stead, Jeff Kuchinka and Mike Olson were promoted from firefighters to training officers. And Empey was promoted to fire inspector.

A supper was catered by EB's. The evening concluded with socializing.