Namao fire department celebrates 30 years
New award named after co-founder Ted Suryani
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 06:00 am
The Namao fire department celebrated its 30th anniversary on the weekend and its two-dozen volunteer members paid a special tribute to one of its founders at the same time.
On Saturday the organization unveiled the Suranyi Award, named after co-founder Ted Suranyi, to be awarded annually to the firefighter of the year.
“I’m very honoured,” Suranyi said in a later phone interview, choked up with emotion. “It’s very nice.”
“He was very surprised that he got it,” said Suranyi’s son Roger, who added that his father was also recognized for his decade of service as the volunteer fire chief, fighting fires alongside his crew many years ago.
Before the hamlet got its fire department in 1982, public demand was starting to mount but it took a tragedy to really get the ball rolling, said current fire chief Robert Gallant.
“There’s a little bit of a story to it. Back in the mid-’70s, they were pushing for a fire department in Namao for years, but nothing was happening. There was a fire and one of the members of the Suranyi family died in the fire, and then there was a harder push and they got it passed. They got the fire department going.”
At the time, Morinville’s fire department provided protection for Namao, which is a long way from Morinville, Suranyi said.
“When we called them, by the time they came out, it took them too long to do anything,” he said.
The new fire department didn’t start up all at once, however. There was a team of people in place but it didn’t have a home base. Once again, Suranyi stepped in.
As the first fire chief, and a successful business owner, he allowed his NAPA Autopro Service Centre store to be the temporary location for the new team and its equipment.
“For the first few years, the fire department was actually here in the shop basically,” Roger said with a nostalgic laugh.
This went on until the fire hall was completed in 1985 and the fire department was able to move in.
Gallant has been one of the crew for a decade now. He said there’s hardly a dull moment for the rural station as it keeps busy responding to everything under the sun.
“We answer 120 to 130 calls a year. The highest year is probably 150 calls. We get structure fires, brush fires … we land STARS air ambulances. We do medical assists. We do all sorts of things. We’ve gone to get cats out of culverts. Wherever a fire guy goes,” he laughed.
Suranyi said he’s encouraged about the future of the department with a full complement of volunteers and lots of public support.
“There’s lots of new people they got now, younger people,” he said. “They’re doing good.”