Captain David Spencer of The Sylvan Lake Fire Department was recently honoured with a service bar of the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal.
Captain Spencer received the award for 30 years of service and talked about what it is:
"In 2014 I received the 20 year medal, which is the the ribbon and the medal, like you would probably picture in your mind, and then every 10 years after that they issue you a a silver bar. It goes on the ribbon. I qualified for my 30 year bar actually in 2018, but because the world's had some issues in the last few years, It's taken them a few years to get it processed, but I did receive it this this Christmas time."
Spencer also talked about how rare it is to be in the fire fighting field for such a long time and his future plans.
"To be active in it for 30 years I think is a relatively uncommon thing. There are a lot of members who received these awards for 30 and 40 years, but they're more in an alumni situation than still in active service. I don't know if I'll make my 40s still in active service, but I guess we'll see. I have no immediate plans to leave the fire department. It's been a part of my life for so long that I don't know what I'd do without it."
Captain Spencer hasn't always been with The Sylvan Lake Fire Department. He got his start in Shellbrook Saskatchewan, first as a firefighter, then Deputy Chief and his last year there as Fire Chief. He joined the Sylvan Lake Department in 2003 and has been here since. Over his 30 years of service there were calls that stick out in his mind.
" Typically they are the bad ones, and there have definitely been a few calls over the years that have been hard to shake. And you know there are moments that trigger the memories again, but there are some great memories too."
One of his more laughable moments happened in Saskatchewan when he was trying to put out a fire near a National Park and a fire helicopter dropped a bucket of water on his head.
"Well, the guys in the helicopter saw the same stream of smoke that I was putting out and I thought gee, that helicopter sounds awfully close and I looked up to see the Bambi bucket right above me and I managed to grab my helmet just as they poured it right on top of me. I can tell you that it laid me right flat out on the ground."
Captain Spencer says his favourite part of the job is the people.
"We are the people you call when there's nobody else to call because we'll show up whether we can help or not, or to what extent, the fire department is always there. We all just want to do our best to help our fellow men when they need us. And that's really what it boils down to."