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Fort Macleod firefighters honoured for service

Back row, from left: George Fox, John Barlow, Dawn Marie Mackintosh Roy, John Mackintosh, Perry Fraser, Allen Zoeteman, Tom Little Child and Michel Roy. Front row, from left: Huub Wooldrik, Dan Neels, Rein Noordegraff, Richard Kreft and Alex Vanee.

The community’s unsung heroes were honoured Nov. 3 at the Fort Macleod Firefighters Harvest Ball.
Firefighters received service medals from the province during the event at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
“These are the people who selflessly dedicated their time, talents and in many cases their lives to the service of others,” Tom Little Child from the Office of the Alberta Fire Commissioner said.
In 2003 the Alberta government initiated the Alberta Emergency Services Medal.
Medal recipients for at least 12 years of service were Fire Chief Allen Zoeteman (25 years), Deputy Chief Perry Fraser (30 years), Captain Michel Roy (19 years), Captain George Fox (19 years), Captain Huub Wooldrik (13 years) and firefighters John Mackintosh (26 years) and Dawn Marie Mackintosh Roy (13 years).
“You guys are the lifeblood of the community,” Little Child said.
The medal has a wild rose on one side with the words “In service of Albertans,” with the Alberta shield on the other side with the words “Emergency Services Alberta.”
Allen Zoeteman, Perry Fraser and John Mackintosh also received medals for at least 22 years of service.
“It’s amazing to have 22 years of dedicated volunteer service,” said MD of Willow Creek Deputy Fire Chief Kelly Starling, who was master of ceremonies on Saturday. “I take my hat off to all of you.”
Firefighters who received rings for 10 years of service with the Fort Macleod department were Richard Kreft, Rein Noordegraff, Alex Vanee and Dan Neels.
Little Child said events such as the Harvest Ball are important to first responders.
“It’s a thankless job that we do,” Little Child said. “Every now and then someone has got to say thank you.”
Foothills MP John Barlow was impressed how members of the Fort Macleod Fire Department volunteer to serve the community.
“You have found time to be dedicated to do something that you know is so important to your community,” Barlow said.
Barlow said the value to the community of a fully staffed and well trained fire department can’t be overstated.
“You can proudly say that you have a top notch fire department in Fort Macleod that is fully staffed and extremely well-trained,” Barlow said.
Barlow said federal politicians have paid attention to the needs of front line works in recent years with the first responder tax credit.
Another initiative is Bill C-27 to establish a framework to support first responders who have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorders).
Barlow said first responders in small communities such as Fort Macleod face different challenges than their peers in cities.
“What makes it more difficult for many of you is you’re responding to calls where you’re seeing your friends, your neighbours and in many cases members of your own family,” Barlow said. “And the effects and impact it has on your community is quite profound.”
As a result, Barlow said, Bill C-27 had unanimous support in the House of Commons and the Senate.
Barlow paid tribute to the firefighters as well as their spouses and families.
“Without your dedication and your support to stand behind these men and women they wouldn’t be able to do the jobs we have asked them to do,” Barlow said.
Close to 200 people turned out for the event, which included dinner, a silent auction and a dance.
Fire Chief Allen Zoeteman thanked the Harvest Ball organizing committee and the members of the community who turned out.
Zoeteman became emotional when he noted a team of four firefighters from the Claresholm department volunteered to be at the Fort Macleod fire hall to handle any emergencies.
“It made this a very special night,” Zoeteman said of the people who made the event happen.

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