December is the season for the hustle and bustle, the stress of shopping, the gift of giving and the time for reflection. This is a step away from my regular column, but “tis the season” so let’s have an insider look of what it’s like at the fire station during the festive season.
The Fire Department is not unlike other essential services as far as shift work is concerned. The firefighters take great pride in serving our citizens 24/7 for 365 days a year and every firefighter working shift work knows that sooner or later he will be working Christmas Day. When they report for duty on Christmas, it’s with a smile on their face because they know it’s an honour and privilege to serve as a firefighter in the City of Prince Albert.
As part of the Christmas spirit, the firefighters put on a Christmas party for their families at the station. The party is usually about four hours in length, but they prepare for it several days in advance to make sure the tree is decorated, the gifts are in place, treats are ready and Santa is scheduled for his stop. The reward for this effort is being able to watch the smiles on the faces of their children when they see Santa, and the way they eagerly open their presents. It’s also one of the few times when all of the families have an opportunity to get together and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a great afternoon that creates memories when even today I can vividly recall my own children as they played and anxiously waited for Santa to arrive at the fire station.
As in the past, this year the Prince Albert Firefighters Charity partners with the Salvation Army for Santa’s Anonymous. This is a special time for the department as we all know the gifts will be going to children and families that need them. The firefighters are proud to drive a truckload of gifts on the ice during intermission at a Raider’s hockey game and as Fire Chief, I am extremely proud of their contribution to the citizens of our great city.
Now, I may be pushing my luck here regarding Santa Anonymous, but I do need to thank Canadian Tire (notice no names as per anonymous) for “enthusiastically” partnering with the Firefighters Charity to ensure that many gifts will be going to the children that would not normally receive a gift on Christmas Day.
This time of year is about loving, caring and spreading the magic spirit of Christmas. This is also the time when I as fire chief can sit back and review the year and acknowledge the hard work of every staff member in the fire department. There is no doubt I am proud to be the chief of professional staff that take pride in their work. What defines the spirit of Christmas is something they do all year with their volunteer work raising awareness and money for charitable organizations and members of the community. They do a great job and the City of Prince Albert can be proud of its Fire Department.
On behalf of the Prince Albert Fire Department, I want to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Until next year, be safe!
Les Karpluk is the chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department.