A salute to the long and colourful tradition of the Ponoka Fire Department

Hammertime takes time to recognize the history of the Ponoka Fire Department.

While growing up as a youngster and later living in Ponoka for over 50 memorable years I quickly developed and always will have a deep admiration and respect for the members and staff of our vital emergency services in and around this great community.

The long and colourful history of the Ponoka Fire Department (PFD) dates back to the early 1900s and proudly carries on to this day, and their longstanding and ongoing efforts and dedication should forever be greatly appreciated and saluted by everyone.

Over so many busy and steadily growing years there have been hundreds of dedicated men and women who have proudly volunteered and together as a team have served their town and surrounding districts on a 24-7 basis by promptly and faithfully responding and putting their lives on the line to attend to countless fires, accidents and emergencies. As well as assisting, attending and sharing their skills to the vital emergency needs of people of all ages, the PFD has also proudly been involved in ongoing year round local safety and fire prevention procedures, as well as organizing and hosting a never-ending list of community family events and projects to help raise funds for a host of very worthwhile and special causes. Their passionate fundraising efforts have also allowed them to purchase a great deal of the vital extra equipment that is required for the trucks and in the year-round operation and maintenance of your local fire department.

I will never forget many years ago when some great sports and real ‘characters’ from our local volunteer fire department dressed up as rock stars and sassy ladies to play a hilarious game of Donkey Basketball against the Ponoka Kinsmen Club. There was a huge crowd on hand, all the proceeds went towards a special playground project for our community children, and many of these enjoyable sports and fun events, barbecues and picnics would become year-round family attractions. My father, along with many other staff members of the Alberta Hospital served on their own fire department in the mid 1900s, which always received great support and training from the PFD, who later took over the safety and protection services for the massive facility, which is now the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury.

One of the grand old traditions of our local fire departments has been to encourage members to gather together in the comfortable upstairs lounge of the fire hall for a well deserved ‘cool down’ after fighting a tough fire, tending to a serious accident, completing an important training course or getting through a long Monday night practice. Along the way there will always be a lot of nerves and stress and dangers for these brave souls, but any personal disputes or beefs in those days were usually settled over a game of pool or a heart to heart chat and a smoke outside the back door.

Facts that are too easily forgotten

I was shocked to read an article last week, which stated that in 2005 the Mexican Army crossed into the United States, and it was the first and ONLY time that the United States has allowed foreign military units to enter their country since the Second World War. So what brought those 500 Mexican soldiers and all of their equipment over the U.S./Mexico you might ask?

They came to help feed the many thousands of victims of the horrific Hurricane Katrina, bringing with them 184,000 tons of food and supplies. These friendly soldiers spent countless hours delivering more than 7,000 meals as well as providing medical consultations. The 184 remaining soldiers at the end of 20 days returned to Mexico, but not until after proudly providing help and care to thousands of Americans affected by the storm. It is truly an encouraging and amazing moment that certainly counteracts the idea of Mexico as a country that is constantly in need. This little piece of history vividly shows that when Mexico send their people across the border they surely sent their best and their bravest.

Perhaps someone should pass these facts on to new U.S. President Donald Trump, who just may be encouraged to Forget the Fence?

Let’s cheer for the Ground Hog, start thinking spring and have a great week, all of you.