Retired fire chief Walt Osellame was recently honoured in a surprise ceremony in Midway.
Having put in 42 years as a volunteer firefighter, he was perhaps overdue for the recognition.
Osellame, who received two service medals at the village community centre Tuesday evening, April 20, said he’d come to supervise an exam by Midway firefighters. If he’d expected to see Fire Chief Mike Daloise, no one had breathed a word that Mayor Martin Fromme and chief administrator Penny Feist would be there to give Osellame his “bars” — one strip of gold each for his third and fourth decades of service.
“It was very humbling. You don’t realize how fast 40 years go by,” Osellame told The Times.
Now 67, he said he started battling wildfires at 17, going on to fight structure fires at 25. “I’m still helping out as best I can with the Midway crew,” he said, explaining that helps with logistics and training.
Osellame has meanwhile stayed on as the College of the Rockies’ fire-training coordinator. He also teaches fire suppression courses at Boundary Central Secondary School, where he served as principal for 24 years, and Grand Forks Secondary High School.