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Bonnyville Station 5 names 2021 firefighter of the year

Jensen Wenzel receives the 2021 Firefighter of the Year Award, voted on by her peers at Station 5 Bonnyville.

BONNYVILLE – As 2021 came to an end, the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority (BRFA) Station 5 voted for the Station’s Firefighter of the Year. Taking the annual award was Jensen Wenzel, voted 2021 Firefighter of the Year by the members of the Bonnyville Station. 

“Each year three firefighters are nominated by the officers and voted on by the members of Station 5 for a member who has gone above and beyond what is asked for from our firefighters – aside from responding to calls and attending weekly practices and training,” said Station 5 Fire Chief Craig Wenzel.  

“Jensen was nominated for the extra help and behind the scenes work she puts into community involvement activities, additional and supplemental training and her general eagerness to learn... She has been a very active member of Station 5. Helping in any way she can to better help the station and her community.” 

Over the last year, Wenzel took part and volunteered her time at several of the Station's community events, such as handing out candy to trick-or-treaters at the RCMP detachment on Halloween and taking part in the Charity Check Stop in December. 

Despite her volunteer work over the last year, Wenzel tells Lakeland This Week it was a surprise to be nominated for the award, and even more so when she won.  

“(I was) able to get into the community and help in that sense, but I didn't think it would ever really be enough to set me over the edge to get nominated. I'm definitely glad that the officers have been seeing it though,” she says.  

“On a personal level, it's very motivating,” says Wenzel. “It's definitely a very motivating thing to see that they're noticing the hard work and everything. Like those nights where I don't go hangout with people or don't go do things because I'm at the hall... It's nice to know that that's appreciated.” 

Although volunteering with the BRFA comes with a fair share of responsibility, Wenzel says members do it because it is about “being able to be there when people need it, and I think that is really important to us.” 

She continued, “A lot of these people, when we get called out to these things, it's one of their worst days. If there is absolutely anything that I can do, whether it's just saving some (personal items) for them or making the situation a little bit more calm – if there is any way I can help – I like to be able to help. Especially when it's such an uncontrolled and unexpected situation that these people are in.” 

Wenzel also credits the flexibility of her employer for allowing her to find ways to juggle the demands of both training and responding to emergency situations. Her personal life, on the other hand has been more challenging to balance. 

“There's probably not as much ‘me-time’ as there should be, but again, helping people seems more important... The work-fire hall balance is great and then the life-firehall balance, I try to keep it as good as I can,” she says with a laugh. 

Wenzel first got involved with the fire department more than seven years ago at the age of 15 while participating in the Station’s junior firefighter program.  

In the beginning, training as a firefighter was an uphill battle, she recalls. “I guess it was a little bit harder for me to get things done it seemed, and things tended to be a little bit more of a struggle being younger.” 

As a young firefighter trainee, she stuck with the junior program and after a few years away from the community, she came back and joined the BRFA as a responding member. 

Despite facing challenges and the physical demands required of a firefighter, Wenzel never quit. "I definitely credit the members helping me out on that – and willpower, I guess.”  

Jazmin Tremblay

About the Author: Jazmin Tremblay

Jazmin completed a minor in journalism at Hanze University in the Netherlands and completed her Communication Studies degree from MacEwan University with a major in journalism.
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