July 24th, 2024

LFES honours late member during graduation ceremony

By Herald on July 4, 2024.

Recruit Hunter Sylvestre, receives the inaugural Aaron Brooks Memorial Award from training officer Sean Larkin and Regan Brooks during the Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services spring 2024 recruit class graduation Wednesday at Firehall No. 4. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman  – Lethbridge Herald  – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services welcomed seven new members during the Spring 2024 recruit class graduation ceremony Wednesday and one of them became the first recipient of a new award. 

A new award was introduced during the ceremony to recognize and honour a member of the LFES who passed away earlier this year due to cancer and who meant a lot to the department. 

The Aaron Brooks Memorial Award “presented to the recruit who embodies the core values of LFES, demonstrating hard work, dedication to service, exceptional leadership and true grit” was introduced in part by his wife Regan Brooks, who briefly spoke about his time in the department. 

She began by thanking the fire department for establishing the award in memory of her late husband, who was a firefighter for 18 years and who she said was very proud of his work. 

 “I still remember the time he went through with his class, the excitement and sense of accomplishment on his team. Describing Aaron as a worker is easy, he was authentic, brave and unwavering in his integrity, he consistently did the right thing even when no one was watching and approached every task with dedication even those he didn’t particularly enjoyed,” said Brooks. 

She added that while Aaron never explicitly said “show up and work hard,” these words encapsulate how he lived each day, as he was always early for work with boots polished, chores complete and many times he was the first to take action. 

“Today we present this award in his honour and to the recruit who exemplifies integrity, work ethic, perseverance and grit. May it also inspire others to uphold the standards that Aaron cherished and embodied throughout his career,” said Brooks. 

The inaugural recipient of the Award was Hunter Sylvestre, and he told reporters after the ceremony that unlike many recruits who have come before him, he had no previous related training or experience in the field. 

“I’m very honoured to receive that award. I feel over the moon, very ecstatic that they chose me. I’ve never been anywhere in any kind of fire service or got any fire training, so it was all new to me,” said Sylvestre. 

He said training was very hard, but he was very excited to do it every single day and he is very happy it has paid off. 

“I was excited to wake up and come to work every single day and even on some of the hardest days it was still some of the most enjoyable time I’ve ever had,” said Sylvestre. 

He recalled some of the hardest training days he had and said those included tire runs and fire scenarios where they had to go into the tower to put out a fire. 

“We had to locate it and put it out with water while moving through the building and using proper techniques, so it’s a lot on your mind and you’re moving and its smokey, you can’t see, it’s dark, but it was still a lot of fun,” said Sylvestre. 

Sean Larkin, recruit training officer for the spring 2024 recruit class, said after the ceremony he was  proud of all seven recruits because they were very hard working individuals. 

“They showed up early every single day, they worked extremely hard, they did come in as a group of individuals, they really bound together and found a way to get through everything I threw at them and I threw a ton of stuff at them,” said Larkin. 

He said they handled everything with pride and with professionalism. He added that the department is continually trying to get better and a group like this that is highly motivated and dedicated to learning and growing and becoming professional firefighters is absolutely necessary. 

“We really take pride in the fact that we’re on the forefront, we’re changing the way other services in the province respond to emergencies because we take it very seriously,” said Larkin. 

When asked about the Aaron Brooks Memorial Award, Larkin paused and took a deep breath as he was close to Brooks. 

“His funeral was the first day of this recruit class. I was a recruit with Aaron, he’s a big part of all of our lives, extremely hard worker, his dedication to the fire service and to his family is unmatched by anyone I know,” said Larkin. 

He added that being able to have an award like that, to give back and to share his legacy with all future recruits is really heartwarming for him. 

“Hunter was our selection. He definitely pushed himself outside of his comfort zone and he did amazing,” said Larkin. 

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