The Township of Langley Professional Firefighters Association, Local 4550, welcomed two new members into their fold Monday evening at the Aldergrove Legion.
A ceremony was held to honour the new recruits as their acceptance on the fire department official marked 100 full-time firefighters serving the township.
Matt Szydlowski and Jon Dvorak, having finished their year-long probation, were presented with fire service badges in a socially-distanced ceremony that included family, colleagues, plus Chief Stephen Gamble and Deputy Fire Chief Russ Jenkins.
“These two fellows were hired one year ago to go through probation,” Jenkins explained. “I’m tremendously proud because it is a tough career to get into.”
One hundred full-time firefighters are on duty with 115 paid call fire fighters available, Jenkins said, who serve the Township on Langley at seven separate stations.
While fire service badges are a right of passage for every recruit, larger-scale ceremonies like this are uncommon. Jenkins said he could only recall about five or six in the department’s history.
The event began with a procession by the L4550 Honour Guard, and was presided over by Honour Guard Sergeant Major Jason Linn.
In congratulating the two on their achievement, President Andy Hewitson read congratulatory remarks from both Township Mayor Jack Froese and CAO Mark Bakken.
“Earning your badges is such an important part of your career and one you should be very proud of; we certainly are,” wrote Mayor Froese.“We hope you have many fulfilling years ahead of you, and wish you all the best as you officially become part of the Township’s firefighting family.”
President Hewitson became emotional as he passed badge number 100 to Chief Gamble to hand to Szydlowski; 100 fire professionals under the Township of Langley Fire Department banner is a milestone the Local has been working hard to achieve since its inception.
Thirty-seven-year-old Szydlowski was joined by his spouse and two children, but said the action signified his acceptance into a new family of brothers and sisters.
“Gaining a career in firefighting is extremely competitive and this badge symbolizes the grit and the never-give up attitude required of firefighters,” Szydlowski explained.
“My probationary year was very challenging; emotionally, physically, mentally,” he went on to say. “I love going to work every day knowing I am going to make a difference and at the end of the day, this job has taught me that it’s always good because when things aren’t good for others, I feel so fortunate to be the one called on to go help.”
Dvorak, a 27-year-old Murrayville resident, said receiving his badge was the embodiment of years of hard work and is looking forward to continuing to learn as his career goes forward.
COVID-19 had created some issues for larger-scale training, forcing groups to be scaled down and cleaning protocols to be increased.
Going ahead they will be part of the staffing pool that is assigned to ensure a minimum complement of firefighters on the four career apparatus deployed around the Township of Langley.
Deputy fire chief Jenkins added that new recruits are expected to come on to the TLFD team in the new year.
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