A retirement celebration was held for Captain Rob Jonker on Wednesday.
The Spruce Grove Fire Service honoured a dedicated fireman with a special ceremony on Wednesday.
Captain Rob Jonker was sent into retirement with a 'walk out' ceremony that allowed his fellow firefighters to say their goodbyes.
The ceremony wrapped-up with Jonker climbing into a firetruck and being driven home. Assistant Deputy Chief Dean Colthorp explains the significance of this new ritual.
“We wanna make sure we deliver him home the right way, just like he’s delivered everyone else [the people of Spruce Grove],” said Colthorp.
Jonker's father was Deputy Chief of the department from 1972 until 1983, which greatly influenced his decision to become a firefighter. Another reason for joining was his drive to protect the people of his community. He says one of his favorite memories at the department was getting to work with his father for two years.
Just as the Captain’s father left an impression on him, Colthorp says Jonker will leave a legacy at the firehall.
“He [Rob Jonker] basically built 10 people on his platoon and he made them become who they are. Everything he ever did or said; they mirrored,” said Colthorp.
Jonker has seen major changes in both the community and the fire service itself, including seeing Spruce Grove go from a town to a city.
“[I’ve] seen it go from five full-time staff [working] during the day-period [for] five days a week, into a full-time staff of 10-11 firefighters running 24 hours [a day], 365 days a year,” said Jonker.
Despite the emotional goodbye, Jonker will not be leaving the department altogether. He is expected to work with the alumni association, striving to share the stories and history of the department. Part of this will be a new ‘coffee cup’ project in which names of all current alumni members will have their names put onto mugs to be displayed at the department’s new building.
Jonker says he looks forward to spending more time with his two daughters and grandchildren as he enters retirement.