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Senior Living A monthly supplement

Memories from Estevan’s fire service in the past By William Acri wacri@estevanmercry.ca

Now that the Estevan Fire Rescue Service has celebrated the grand opening of its new building, many are looking back on the past of Estevan’s fire department. During the grand opening on Jan. 20, there was a large collection of memorabilia from the past. Featured were various photo albums and some physical items dating as far back as the 1920s. Lowell Holmgren was in attendance at the event and he is the oldest living member who has served with the Estevan Fire Rescue Service. Holmgren started with the fire service in 1949 and

he didn’t retire until 2000. Today he is known as a sort of local historian for the department. “I was a mechanic and an engineer and for all the time I spent with the fire department, I never really had any titles,” said Holmgren. “That said, I have done a considerable amount of firefighting and some rescue work. During the winter I had some tremendously cold rides.” The first two trucks Holmgren drove were missing a few modern amenities such as a proper roof, doors and windshield. “The first two trucks I drove the first one didn’t have any windshield and the second one didn’t have any doors,” said Holmgren. “I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy.

The guys used to pile in the back and freeze, sometimes they would go in a car and just one or two of us would drive the truck. I had some terrible, terrible cold rides on there. You can’t believe what they were like.” At one point Holmgren had frozen his butt so badly that he was immobilized in his bed for three days. For that time he remembered he couldn’t sit or do much of anything. On some winter nights, the temperature had dropped to -50 C and with the wind chill it felt a great deal colder than that,” he said.  “It was a lot of cold rides but finally, on the No. 2 truck that we got, we had a carpenter on the team

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Holmgren had to respond to a fire in a very rural area, as a station house had caught fire. Due to the lack of fire hydrants the truck had to be driven on a frozen body of water, and beneath it the fire engine pumped water out and onto the station house. “I went to walk away from the truck up to the station house, and I was walking uphill because we pumped so much water out of there, it dropped the ice, so we had to get a locomotive to pull it out,” said Holmgren. Despite Holmgren’s experiences with dangerously low temperatures he always saw the guys who ran into a house during a fire as the real heroes. “Even though at one time I was the guy driving the truck in the winter and freezing, the real heroes were the guys who would jump out of the truck and go in and fight the fire,” said Holmgren. “I was never in danger of being hurt or burned or things like that, not like the guys that would go in-

side all the time. I was that guy sometimes and there’s been sad times as well working as a firefighter.” Working with the fire department during Holmgren’s career wasn’t all stories of being frozen and having to work in the winter. He remembers a lot of good things from what he calls the good old days. “We would end up with someone squirting somebody with the water cannon, we ended up with two trucks hooked up to two hydrants and we would be having a big water fight,” said Holmgren. “If we had done that nowadays, you’d be in trouble so fast you wouldn’t know what you were doing,” he added. Holmgren is very happy with the new fire hall and says it is a massive improvement on the old one. “I think the new fire hall is a beauty, you should have seen the first one we were in, our room downstairs had a dirt floor and to stand down there you had to bend over because there wasn’t enough space,” said Holmgren.


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and he made some doors for it. That was a little better but the wind still came overtop your head,” said Holmgren. “I drove to Lampman one night to a little town north of Kingsford and on the way there we got caught up to the snow plow,” said Holmgren. “The snow plow wasn’t going very fast so we said, we will pass you and if we get stuck you can pull us out. We got all the way to Lampman without getting stuck and the steel floorboards had melted all the snow on the inside.” “We had snow coming in over top and I had to drive around the block because I couldn’t get it out of gear. There was so much snow and ice piled up on the floorboard of the truck that the gear shifter was stuck.” The Estevan Fire Rescue Service, in the earlier years of Holmgren’s career, kept its older fire engines around and in service for a long time. One night, while braving the bitter cold and driving fire engine No. 1,

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Did you know that falls are one of the primary causes of injury for people aged 65 and over? According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, approximately 85 per cent of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors are caused by falls, and at least half of those incidents happen at home. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your home is secure and adapted to your needs. In order to prevent falls from happening on your property, follow these valuable tips: • Secure your carpets to the floor or have them removed • Leave the passage between your bedroom and bathroom clear at all times • Have support bars installed next to the toilet as well as in the bath and

shower • Store big, heavy objects in easily accessible areas • Use a stable ladder with a guardrail to reach elevated areas • Make sure the walkway and steps leading to your house are well maintained and free of ice, snow or leaves • Ensure that stairs, hallways and thresholds are well lit • Keep pathways clear of obstacles and avoid leaving objects lying around the stairs Furthermore, to preserve your balance and strength, eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, stay active, manage your medication wisely and invest in assistive devices if necessary. After all, your safety depends on it!

Profile for Estevan Lifestyles Publications

Senior Living January 2018  

Senior Living January 2018