Champlain Township recognized the decades of dedication and service of 14 of its currently serving and retired firefighters on Thursday, September 14. The awards ceremony was held in L’Orignal in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell council chambers.

Seven firefighters received awards for 20 years of service. Four of those firefighters serve at the L’Orignal station and three serve at the Vankleek Hill station. Six firefighters from the Vankleek Hill station were recognized for 30 years of service, and one retired Vankleek Hill firefighter was awarded for 40 years of service.

“These men before us today have demonstrated such grace and courage in protecting our community,” Mayor Normand Riopel said.

“Your service is certainly appreciated,” Director of Fire Services Ghislain Pigeon said.

At 20 years of service, a Federal Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal is offered to firefighters who have reached this important milestone in service to their citizens, The Governor General issues these medals upon request along with a certificate, and bars are added to these medals every five subsequent years. The Province of Ontario also recognizes the service of its firefighters by offering a Fire Services Long Service Medal after 25 years of service, bars are also added every following five years to be added to the medal ribbon.

Each firefighter’s spouse was presented with flowers in appreciation for their support and sacrifice of their partners’ service to the fire department.

“Firefighters could not be there without their families,” Pigeon remarked.

Riopel concluded the ceremony with comments highlighting how firefighters are part of the community in Champlain Township.

“Without you, this community would not be the same. We appreciate your devotion and your time,” he said.

According to Pigeon, medal ceremonies used to be organized at the provincial level, by the Fire Marshall’s Office, but that practice was discontinued. About ten years ago, fire departments across Prescott-Russell began holding awards galas every two years. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of those events, but a gala was held in Casselman in the fall of 2022. However, not all recipients were able to attend. Supply chain issues with obtaining medals also led to not all firefighters being officially recognized. Pigeon explained how the September 14 ceremony was intended to correct those problems and ensure the firefighters were officially recognized properly.

The Champlain Township firefighters who received awards on September 14 are:

20 years of service

• Patrick Bernier, Deputy District-Chief, L’Orignal

• Richard Sincennes, District Chief, L’Orignal

• Benoit Larocque, Captain, L’Orignal

• Stéphane Pépin, Captain, L’Orignal

• Marc Brunet, Firefighter, Vankleek Hill

• Greg Lydiate, Firefighter, Vankleek Hill

• Kevin Bernique, Safety Officer, Vankleek Hill

30 years of service

• Mark Henderson, Captain, Vankleek Hill

• Jeffrey Carkner, Deputy District-Chief, Vankleek Hill

• Eric Jaring, Firefighter, Vankleek Hill

• James Cowan, Captain, Vankleek Hill

• Louis Turcotte, Captain (Retired), Vankleek Hill

• Michel Martin, District Chief, Vankleek Hill

40 years of service

• Ernest Roebuck, Captain (Retired), Vankleek Hill

Champlain Township firefighters awarded for 20 years of service. Photos: James Morgan

Champlain Township firefighters awarded for 30 years of service

Champlain township firefighter awarded for 40 years of service

From left to right, Mayor Normand Riopel, retired Vankleek Hill Captain Ernie Roebuck, spouse Ollie Roebuck, and Director Ghislain Pigeon