Fire Inspector Dennis Benson holds his grandson Shea Hofford at Tuesday afternoon’s awards ceremony. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
Terry Browett shows his daughters Madison and Sirena a certificate honouring his promotion at an awards ceremony at No. 1 Firehall on Tuesday afternoon. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
After more than a quarter of a century protecting people from fires, Dennis Benson has no regrets.
Benson, who received a 25-year service medal from the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs, says his lengthy career — as a front-line firefighter, then fire inspector — has been a proud one.
"I wouldn’t change a thing," Benson said on Tuesday afternoon during the Brandon Fire and Emergency Services award ceremony at the No. 1 Firehall.
The awards recognized Brandon firefighter/paramedics who have served between five and 30 years, and members who recently received promotions.
"I want to thank you all for your dedication to this city ... Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for keeping our city safe," Deputy Mayor Len Isleifson said.
Fire Chief Brent Dane noted that the job can be tough on firefighter/paramedics and their families — besides the inherent dangers, shift work takes them away from their families on evenings and weekends.
Benson is from Wabowden, where he signed up to be a volunteer firefighter in October 1982 at the age of 18. He looked forward to the excitement of doing something different every day.
"I like challenges, and I knew it would be challenging," Benson said.
In 1995, Benson joined the Thompson fire department, became a full-time firefighter and rose to the rank of deputy chief.
In 2005, he moved on to the Brandon fire department and took on the role of fire inspector.
It’s a Monday-to-Friday job for him now, but Benson had put in his time on shift work and on-call as a front-line firefighter over the years.
The 50-year-old father and grandfather credits his family for making the sacrifices that allowed him to pursue a career protecting others.
"You’ve got to really thank them for putting up with you, and your hours and everything else that goes along with this," Benson said, adding he also appreciates the camaraderie of his fellow firefighter/paramedics.
Benson’s four-day-old grandson, Nixon, and 15-month-old grandson Shae were both present at the ceremony when he received his long service medal.
Twenty-five years after Benson started his career, the excitement of doing something different every day and helping others still draws in recruits.
Trevor Martens was among those to receive his Five Year Badge at Tuesday’s ceremony. The 36-year-old started with the Winnipeg Fire Department before he joined the Brandon department in 2008.
He’d wanted to be a firefighter ever since he was a youth. He says he wanted to help others, but he too was drawn to the element of excitement.
"Every day is different, so it’s not mundane," said Martens, a married father of two.
Governor General Awards - Fire Services Exemplary Service Medals
Thirty Year Service Bar — Chief Brent Dane, Dean Hunter, Deputy Chief Garry Bell.
Twenty Year Service Medal — Don Matthews, Kevin Holder, Shayne Collister, Lance Dornn, Dennis Benson.
Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs Awards
Twenty-five Year Service Medal — Wade Ritchie, Dennis Benson.
Brandon Fire & Emergency Services award
Five Year Badge — Cam Hodgins, Shane Thomas, Sean Klemick, Sheldon Reynolds, Trevor Falk, Jason Funk, Trevor Martens, Jonathon Arndt, Braden Coates, Ted Redekop, Matt McLeod, Troy Lamerz, Mark Bailey, Mike Hole, Mark Ryback.
Lieut. Kevin Holder Jan. 31, 2012
A/Lieut. II Terry Parlow Jul. 5, 2012
A/Lieut. I Terry Browett - Jul. 17, 2012
Capt. Wade Ritchie Nov. 1, 2012
Lieut. Marv Janzen Jan. 7, 2013
A/Lieut. II Shayne Collister Mar. 12, 2013
A/Lieut. I Joe Szabo Apr. 15, 2013
Lieut. Don Matthews Oct. 30, 2013
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 30, 2013