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The Town of High Level Fire Department is thanking members of the 41 community fire departments who answered the call to save High Level during the Chuckegg Creek fire with a special commemorative gift.
The High Level Fire Department Firefighter’s Association has paid for 600 challenge coins marking the occasion of the fire to hand out to all firefighters who came to High Level to help save the town.
Challenge coins are generally small coins or medallions that identify the carrier as a member of a specific organization or who participated in an event of note. While the tradition of handing out commemorative coins goes back to Roman times, modern challenge coins have a military history and were used in The First World War.
The tradition of issuing challenge coins has been embraced by many fire departments, who hand them out to their members. They have also been used to commemorate large-scale events.
Following the Chuckegg Creek fire, members of the High Level Fire Department decided they wanted to do something special for the fire departments that came to the aid of the community.
“A lot of them came from a long way,” said HLFD Chief Rodney Schmidt. “This was something that was voluntary in terms of them disrupting their departments to come up and help us, and we wanted to have some way to say thank-you.”
One side of the coin has the “Together We Stand” logo, and the other side features the HLFD emblem and the fire assignment number for the Chuckegg Creek fire: HWF042, and “Chuckegg Creek Wildfire” below it.
The HLFD membership paid for the coins out of an honorarium. While the HLFD is a volunteer department, the honorarium is an amount provided to the High Level Fire Department Firefighter’s Association by the Town which is normally used to help fund activities such as the HLFD Christmas party or providing tickets for firefighters and their spouses to attend the Firefighter’s Ball every year.
The coins are not for sale, and are only intended for firefighters who were in High Level during the emergency. A small number of non-firefighters in the community who played key roles in the defence of the town were also presented with a coin.