Lantville Fire Rescue volunteers were out in strength Monday March 24 to watch as the District of Lantzville honoured four of their colleagues with long service awards. Combined, the four have accumulated more than 75 years of volunteer service in Lantzville:
Firefighter Don Bayne, Provincial Medal (25 years): A professional forester, Don Bayne settled here in 1981 hoping to do some community service. He tried a variety of service clubs but they just couldn’t spark his interest. A chance discussion in a coffee shop with some volunteer firefighters changed all that, igniting a second career as a firefighter and first responder that has now stretched 29 years. “The art of helping people when they’re in trouble, and helping volunteers come along in the department, is what stands out,” says Don of his service so far. “Just doing something in the community – that’s the most satisfying part of all.”
Firefighter Carl Sahlstrom, Provincial Medal (25 years): With 25 years under his suspenders (firefighters don’t wear belts J), Carl Sahlstrom’s not sure how much longer he’ll stay in the fire service, but the long-time steel man has a left a solid firefighting legacy behind him. His eldest daughter April was the second women ever to join LFR and is now married to a Captain serving with Nanaimo Fire Rescue. Younger daughter Sarah was the first women licensed to drive all of the Hall’s vehicles and its first female officer. Captain Sarah Randall has since moved to Port Alberni, where she’s now a member of the Cherry Creek V.F.D. along with her husband Mark. (Oddly enough, Carl’s son Chris – who’s actually built like a firefighter – isn’t one). “I love helping people in the community,” says Carl of his motivation for sticking it out so long. “But it’s more about my girls than anything – I’m so proud they both came in behind me.”
Firefighter Dianne Blanchette, 15-year pin: When work brought Diane back to the area she grew up in, “volunteering just seemed like a natural step”. Working as a first-aid attendant for BC Ferries, for whom she’s now put in 22 years, Diane wanted to shore up skills she thought might come in handy in an emergency. She ended up getting a little more than she bargained for, including a husband (Steve, a 23-year LFR veteran) and, a little later, daughters Ella, 10, and twins Anna and Lily, 8. But meeting Steve, she says, wasn’t the only benefit of joining the Hall. “I am constantly inspired by the people who devote so much time to their community, as well as those who continue to join. I guess you could say that being a volunteer is a constant source of inspiration for me, new and old.”
Captain Randy Weflen, 5-year pin: Born and raised in Lantzville, Randy actually joined LFR eleven years ago, but spent six years with Nanaimo Fire Rescue before coming back. A finishing carpenter and maker of the world-famous “Wefi” cedar surfboard, Randy has become one of LFR’s most experienced firefighters as well as one of its most respected instructors. Being in the fire service, he says, is an addiction he has no plans to shake. “The department is the best it’s ever been for me. Everyone is there for the right reason. It’s packed with keeners and I find that really exciting. We just have a great group of people.”
Don’t Forget about the Annual LFR Garage Sale! Saturday April 12 beginning at 8:00 a.m.