One man’s dedication to his community for more than 20 years was recognized over the weekend.
Ponoka Fire Department Captain (retired) Bob Sorenson was honoured by the Government of Canada at a ceremony on Saturday, May 7 at the Kinsmen Community Centre with the Fire Services Exemplary Medal for 20 years of service to the community as a volunteer firefighter.
The medal, established in 1985 for both full-time and volunteer firefighters, symbolizes the dedication and sacrifices made by such individuals in serving as a member of the fire service.
Sorenson, who retired last year after 21 years with the department due to health complications, was honoured in receiving the medal and more than a bit taken aback by the nature of the overall recognition - which included a powerpoint presentation focused on his career and family as well as luncheon.
“I didn’t expect half of the stuff that was done for me today,” said an obviously emotional Sorenson following the presentation and speeches.
“There was a great turnout of family and friends and it was a very nice presentation to see all the trucks parked outside when I arrived. I’ve been honoured to serve with everyone I have been with during my time and I would still be there if not due to my health.”
Sorenson still gets the itch when he hears a siren or the crackle of the radio for a call, but has to be satisfied with listening in.
“I still want to jump up and go,” he added, noting he couldn’t really pinpoint any one individual over his career.
Ponoka Fire Chief Jaime Wilkinson along with Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett and Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr spoke during the presentation, with Bonnett and Orr pinning on Sorenson’s medal and handing him the certificate on behalf of the government and the Alberta Office of the Fire Commissioner, who were not able to attend due to the ongoing crisis in Fort McMurray.
Another firefighter was also honoured for his service that day, current Assistant Chief Rob Fearon was presented the Alberta Emergency Service medal for 12 years of being on the Ponoka Fire Department.
Fearon, who has now served for 13 years, said it was an absolute honour to be recognized, but that this day was all for Bob.
“This was special,” Fearon stated, “but today was more about Bob than me. I have known him for a long time, so I was glad to be a part of this. Though, being able to hang around and earn that respect of your peers like Bob, that’s what makes me the proudest.”
Meanwhile in his introduction, Chief Wilkinson spoke of the commitment of both men along with that of all volunteer firefighters, noting the job is filled with accomplishment and sacrifices of which Sorenson and Fearon did a lot of.
”We have missed birthdays, anniversaries, holiday dinners and family time. We depend on our spouses to keep life running in our homes while we are out helping people we may or may not know, and we do it proudly,” he said.
Mayor Bonnett spoke about both men being outstanding citizens of Ponoka and thanked them each for their service.
“Our volunteer firefighters give generously of their time, often putting themselves in dangerous situations to protect the citizens of our Town and for that we offer a heartfelt thank you for your continued service to the community,” he stated.
And specifically about Sorenson, he added, “The dedication and passion he passed along through the fire department also went into other volunteering - like raising money through a hockey tournament in support of cancer, something I know was near and dear to his heart.”