More than 400 hours of dedication were logged to train seven members of the Ponoka Fire Department (PFD) to receive their firefighter certification.
In this case the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standard 1001 Level II course was the goal, which brings skills in fire services history and communications along with building construction and forcible entry as well as extrication and hazardous materials training. Also part of the training is water supply, salvage and overhaul.
To celebrate the accomplishment, the PFD held a special graduation ceremony March 20 at the Ponoka Air Cadets building with dignitaries, family and friends joining in. Mayor Rick Bonnett praised the firefighters for their hard work.
“It is our honour to commend and to work with the firefighters as they go through their training,” said Bonnett.
Firefighters are the first responders to a scene and Bonnett says they need to be recognized for the dedication they do in saving lives. “One of the things that is a main integral part is teamwork.”
Coun. Marc Yaworski also took some time to recognize their efforts. “Each one of these volunteers tonight immersed themselves in over 400 hours of unpaid training to get to this level. Not only is that commendable, it’s impressive.”
Yaworski says the leadership of Fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson has set a high standard for the town’s firefighters. “They’re willing to do whatever it takes.”
“With this type of sacrifice, and their thirst for knowledge, and when called upon, our citizens know they will receive the quick, professional response they expect,” said Yaworski.
He praised the firefighters for their dedication to excellence. CAO Albert Flootman also offered his thoughts by congratulating the firefighters and their dedication to professional development.
Wilkinson added that without a dedicated set of trainers this would not be possible. He praised former deputy Fire Chief Kelsey Hycha, former assistant Fire Chief Rob Fearon, Lt. Derrick Lewis, Lt. Sheldon Johnston, Cpt. Darrell Lawton and trainer and Cpt. Ken Kraft for their hours behind the scenes to ensure a successful training campaign.
“This is the very first firefighter graduate class that Ponoka Fire Department’s had in its 111 years of history,” said Wilkinson, adding his hope is to continue this tradition on an annual basis.
Yaworski presented the certicifation to the firefighters who then took a firefighter’s oath.
The seven PFD graduating firefighters are Derek Braun, Jordie Dwyer, Tracy Hillaby, Sharon Klinger, Brooke Makkinga, Mark Pischke and Jesse Very.