by Phil Ambroziak
Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6-12 and this year’s theme is, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”
Fire Prevention Week is aimed at educating the public about the small but important actions to take not only to prevent fires, but also what actions to take in order to stay safe when fire does occur. One “hero” who proudly supported Fire Prevention Week and its all-important message was Capt. Kim Sawatzky. Meadow Lake Fire and Rescue lost one of its own recently with the passing of Sawatzky, but the positive impact he made on the local department lives on.
“Kim was a great guy and a real asset to the fire department,” remarked deputy fire chief Joe Grela. “He grew up in the Meadow Lake area, so he was very familiar with the rural landscape. Whenever we would respond to a call at one of the farms in the area, before we could even get the details from the 911 dispatch, Kim knew exactly whose place we were going to and how to get there. We’re going to miss him for sure. He was one of a kind.”
Sawatzky, who joined the fire department in September 1997, died in an Ottawa hospital Aug. 21 following complications from pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) surgery. He was 54.
“I knew Kim for about the last 20 years,” stated firefighter Rick Burnett, who also serves as a captain at the local department. “He was a great fellow and a great person to have on the fire department. He had all of our respect and was a great mentor for the new recruits. Kim was a very inspirational person and was always there to help out his fellow firefighters, as well as the fire chief. He was always great at getting everyone to listen when it was time to get down to business. He was very good at taking charge of the room. He was always willing to help out whenever he could, and his passing has been very sad for the entire department.”
After graduating from high school, Sawatzky found work at area farms before accepting a parts job at Aurora Automotive. He worked there for about five years before starting at Meadow Power and Equipment. His wife, Christine – who came to Meadow Lake several years ago from her hometown of Topeka, Kansas – also serves as a firefighter at the local department.
“When Kim was away from the department and dealing with his medical issues, Christine was very good at keeping us all in the loop,” Burnett continued. “She is still involved with the fire department, which is nice. After all, we’re all family and we are there for her 100 per cent.”
“The fire department is like a brotherhood,” he said.
This brotherhood also extends beyond the local department as well, as a group of firefighters from North Battleford made it their business to come to Meadow Lake and cover things at the local fire hall so all Meadow Lake members could attend Sawatzky’s funeral in Rapid View Aug. 30.
“It was very nice for the firefighters from Battleford to come up and take care of things while we said good-bye to our friend and brother,” Grela noted. “Kim will certainly be missed.”
Burnett echoed this.
“We were all able to participate in Kim’s funeral service,” he said.
In addition to his wife, Sawatzky is survived by his mother, Hope Sawatzky, brothers, Don and Ron Sawatzky, daughter, Courtney (Matt) Bradley, son, Steven (Koryl) Sawatzky, stepsons Jesse (Carrie) Zercher and Earl (Betsy) Pinkston, as well as several grandchildren and the mother of his children, Bernice Hazzard (Jeff Smith).