Two Cochrane firefighters received provincial medals for their service to the community yesterday afternoon.

First Class Firefighter Dale Krawec and First Class Firefighter Robert Beer were both recognized for 12 years of service.

Fire Chief Shawn Polley says these medals mark significant contributions by members of the fire service.

"That's a great accomplishment in a professional firefighter's career, and we had two eligible and worthwhile candidates to receive these honours."

Krawec has been with Cochrane Fire Services since 2008 and was promoted to a full-time position in January. He joined the technical rescue team in 2020 and has added those responsibilities to his professional firefighting competencies.

He started on a part-time on-call basis. Over time, he has continued to develop his skills and expand his knowledge through a series of about 12 courses. 

"It seems like it has gone by fast. Thirteen years have gone so fast, so it's been good."

"It's nice that they recognized the dedication and the hard work you put in over the last 12 years. It's to show that they're watching and it means something to them to present these awards to those who reach the time frame."

He says being a member of Cochrane Fire Services is like being part of a family.

"When you spend 24-hours-a-day with a group of people, you get to know them pretty good. It's like having a second family."

He says the future looks bright for the service. 

"The culture here is good, and the development and future of Cochrane Fire Services is going to be exciting. With the new chief and the new deputy chief, things are going in a good direction."

Beer joined Cochrane Fire Services in 2008 and has been steadily building his professional firefighting credentials, particularly in building construction and professional safety.

Fire Chief Polley says they have little turnover in personnel and seldom hire. Both Beer and Krawac were hired within two weeks of each other in 2008 and were among the last recruited until 2018.

"A lion's share of our staff has over 12 years of service. We have quite a few approaching the federal exemplary service award, which is served at 20 years, so we're pretty excited to have such a diverse workforce with long-serving accomplishments."

He agrees that being a member equates to being part of a family.

"It's great to see that family connection is very strong with our members, as many services of our size. So, it's quite nice to see they do very well together, and they also have the same type of sibling relationship at times. It's very encouraging that they are always there for each other."

Polley was named fire chief late last year upon the retirement of Dave Humphrey. He joined the Cochrane Fire Service in 2017. October will mark his 30th year as a firefighter, serving almost 25 years in Kananaskis Country for the Alberta Government.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions limited celebrations this time around, but he is hopeful the door will open for a more formal presentation to these and other members soon. 

While unable to attend, both local MLA Peter Guthrie and Mayor Jeff Genung congratulated the firefighters and praised them for their contribution to the safety of our community.

"We actually have quite a few members that are celebrating their 20th year, so we'll have several more announcements later this year. There's also our recipients who didn't make the cut-off last year, but will have their 12 years, so we'll have more of those recipients, as well."