McLennan firefighter honoured for service

You would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated veteran firefighter within the ranks of the McLennan Fire Department than 74-year-old Paul Legdon.
Legdon, an active member of the fire department since 1960, was honored by his fellow firefighters and friends for 40 years of service during a special surprise banquet held in his honor at the Elks Hall in McLennan Oct. 7.
“It was a big shock,” said Legdon, who had no idea of what was happening until around 5:30 p.m. that day when firefighters let the cat out of the bag after initiating a fake fire call.
“One of the firefighters called me up and said there was a possible natural gas leak at the McLennan Motor Inn. When I got there I opened the door and ran downstairs with the sniffer (a natural gas detection device) where I found the rest of the boys all dressed up in suits and ties and laughing,” he said.
After returning home to get cleaned up, Legdon made his way to the Elks hall for a special dinner and dance, commemorating 40 years of service with the fire department. Legdon was presented with a pair of plaques during the evening festivities: one on behalf of the fire department from Fire Chief Howard Chalifoux and Captain Lance and the other from McLennan Mayor Ron Faulkner on behalf of the municipality.
Legdon, a former CN Rail employee who retired in 1982, joined the fire department at the age of 34 and hasn’t looked back since. Since that time he’s enjoyed various positions within the fire department, including captain, deputy fire chief and his current role as equipment officer.
His rationale for joining the fire department back in 1960 was based on a need to help out within the community.
“It’s something that I felt comfortable with right from day one,” he said, adding that the biggest personal reward over the past 40 years has been the sense of pride that goes hand in hand with the job. “It makes you feel good if you can save someone’s life or their property.”
Legdon says he has seen more than his fair share of personal tragedy and property loss as a direct result of fire, adding that while some of his experiences as a firefighter were bad, the majority of them were good.
Over the past 40 years of volunteer service to the community he has been a witness to sweeping changes which have come about through increased technological advances in the area of fire suppression tactics and equipment.
“When I first started out all you needed to go out to fight a fire was a coat and hat… that was it. There was more of a risk factor, but fortunately I was never injured even though there were a few close calls that I remember.”
Looking back, he recalls the days when the McLennan Fire Department had an old jeep which was used as a pumper truck and a 1962 Ford.
“At that time our jeep only had the capacity to hold about 100 gallons of water at any given time. It wasn’t much when you consider that today our pumper trucks can hold anywhere from between 500 and 800 gallons of water,” he added.
As far is the future is concerned, Legdon says his intention is to stay on as an active member of the fire department for as long as his body will allow or until the time comes when he no longer enjoys it.
“The guys want me to stay. They told me the other night that if I quit, they’re all going to quit,” he said. “They’re just a wonderful bunch of guys who are always good to me. That’s one of the biggest things that keeps me going.”