Agassiz firefighters were celebrated for their commitment to the community at the department’s annual awards banquet this year.
Mayor Sylvia Pranger, along with Kent councillors and other first responders in the area, were on hand to recognize local firefighters at the Agassiz Friendship House on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Two of the awards presented were given out to new members, both of whom had five years with the Agassiz Fire Department.
Firefighter and charitable society secretary Colin Kerkhoff was recognized for having the most volunteer hours for 2019. Throughout the year he had spent hours volunteering at community events like Canada Day, the Fall Fair and the department’s fire prevention week open house, as well as crafting a podium with the department logo and a bell mount stand for ceremonies.
Lt. Christopher Renaud took home the James G. Morrow memorial award for Rookie of the Year, which honours members with five years of service or less in the department. According to a release from the department, Renaud was recently promoted to lieutenant and “continues to excel as a leader in the training and operations of the AFD.”
Renaud and Kerkhoff both received their five-year service pins at the banquet, along with Lt. Art Neels.
Taking home the Carl Tyfting Memorial Shield was Cpt. Cory Schaeffer. Schaeffer was voted “firefighter of the year” by company officers for his willingness to share his knowledge of firefighting, technical rescues and wildland firefighting tactics.
According to the AFD release, Schaeffer stood out above the rest and exemplified the fire department’s goals, as well as “demonstrated excellent commitment and leadership.”
In addition to the Agassiz Fire Department’s internal awards, two firefighters also received commendation from the provincial government for their long-standing service.
Chris Wilson was awarded the British Columbia Long Service Medal for 25 years of service as a firefighter. Wilson began serving with the Surrey Fire Rescue, and completed two years there before moving to the Agassiz Fire Department, where he is both a firefighter and treasurer for the Agassiz Firefighters’ Charitable Society.
Wilson’s wife Deanna Wilson was also recognized, receiving the provincial dogwood pin from the B.C. Office of the Fire Commissioner. The pin is intended to recognize the sacrifice and contribution of spouses who have partners with 25 years of service or more as a firefighter.
Finally, department chief Gerald Basten was honoured for his 35 years of service to the Agassiz Fire Department.
Basten has spent all 35 of his firefighting years with the Agassiz department, beginning by answering calls when he was a teenager in high school. Now chief of the department, Basten is the second-longest serving active member of the AFD — beaten only by Alan Pryor with 49 years of service.