Top firefighter honoured


JR Barnes, left, receives the firefighter of the year award from Fire Chief Ross Potter, right, at the annual fireman’s ball on Dec. 1.
— Jared Monkman photo

The Hay River Fire Department has named its top firefighter of the year.The award was presented to Junior Barnes at the annual Fireman’s Ball on Dec.  1.

Barnes received more than half the votes cast by department members in selecting the firefighter of the year.

Fire Chief Ross Potter surmises that level of support is because of Barnes’ personality, likability, hard work and commitment of time to the department.

He’s in the top three for number of hours put in this year,” said Potter. “Any training opportunities, he’s on them right away. That’s why he got a lot of the support. At fire scenes and everything, he’s not afraid to get out there and work.”

Barnes, who has been part of the department since October 2011, said he joined partly out of a need to keep busy, but also knowing that a firefighter’s contribution could have an important impact.

It’s knowing that I am part of a team of people that, regardless of the situation, are here to help anyone who needs it,” he said. “Without sounding selfish, one day when it’s my friend, neighbour or family that need help from the ambulance or fire department, I have done my part to make that service available.”

Barnes says being part of the department is a lot like family.

Those receiving long-service awards at the Fireman’s Ball were Megan Russell, Shannon Luckhardt, Sara Conley, Gavin Brockway and Darryl Buhler for two years of service; Doreen Scheller and Alex McMeekin for five years; and Trent Atwell for 15 years.

Potter said honouring firefighters builds cohesiveness within the department.

There are 31 volunteer members currently with the department, which is continuing recruitment.

Since January 2012, there have been 29 fire calls of which 14 were false alarms and six were non-fire related rescues, plus 253 ambulance calls. The department has also performed 33 public education sessions, 50 building inspections and 10 daycare/day home inspections up until Dec. 4.

Throughout the year, there have been 57 training events.

Collectively, the group has contributed 4,208 volunteer hours to date this year.

The year-end Fireman’s Ball brings anticipation for the new year and the potential opening of a new fire hall.

Currently, the Town of Hay River is undecided whether construction of a new fire hall will be shut down for the winter.

Everybody’s really charged up to get out of the old hall and into the new hall,” said Potter.

— Angele Cano