After 14 dedicated years of service with the Sylvan Lake Fire Department, Ben James retired as captain late last year to make way for younger talent. James will now be spending long hours with his family and assisting locals to hunt for their ideal property through his real estate business.
“It was an honour to work with the fire department and become a part of the team, the family. I am going to miss all of them. I wish I could have had more time with them,” said James. “Cliff Brausen (Chief) and Steve Scanland (Deputy Chief) were great mentors. Everybody made me feel like a family, and that’s probably what I will miss the most about retiring is that I’ve kind of left that family. I will miss those 2 a.m. conversations after a call, sitting down with the guys and just decompressing,” he added.
“James held the position of captain, which, with that role, meant a lot of responsibilities, and he handled them very well. He was great with the residents and also with the members. He’ll be very missed. He was a daytime responder which is always good in the volunteer department world,” said Cliff Brausen, department chief.
James suggests anyone with spare time on hands to join the volunteer Sylvan Lake Fire Department as a way to give back to the community while connecting with an extraordinary group of people. “If you are looking for a way to volunteer some time and be involved in the community, the Sylvan Lake Fire Department is an amazing establishment. The group there is amazing to work with and I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone who can spare some time, it’s a great thing to do. We have awesome training opportunities,” he said.
Attending numerous scathing calls during his service, James realized the unpredictability of life. He felt the importance of expressing his love for his family every single day and cherishing each moment spent with them.
“Being on something like that makes you realize just how precious life is, and how important it is to make sure you tell your loved ones every day that you love them. I’ve been almost 15 years with the department and I’ve been to a ton of bad calls. Just to come home and hug your kids and hug your spouse is what’s important, and that’s what I have learned every day is that you are lucky to be alive. There is so much that can happen in such an instance, and so, I think that’s probably the big one I took from it,” said James.
Over the years James started feeling a sense of pressure in attempts to juggle family life, volunteer time and his real estate business, motivating the decision to retire.
“We’re a busy fire department for a volunteer department. We’re likely two times the calls of any other department in our area. We are even three times the calls as some of the other volunteer departments in our area. We do 350 plus calls a year. So, that’s almost a call a day. Of course, that doesn’t happen every day. Sometimes it’s three calls in one day. So, that, I think started to take a toll on me realizing I was getting more tired and didn’t have the same energy for my family. So, I had to pick something to gain back some of that energy and time,” said James.
Brausen wishes James and his family the very best for their future endeavours.
“I wish him and his family all the best. We have a pretty tight-knit group here and the spouses of the firefighters are one of us also. So, it’s tough to see him leave. It’s also tough to see his wife and family leave. I understand his desire to spend more time with his family and focus on his business,” said Brausen.
The Sylvan Lake Fire Department’s lieutenant Jason Fifield has been promoted to Captain to replace James.