By Kevin J Sabo
For the Independent.
The Castor Volunteer Fire Department lost a legend when Fire Captain Mike Yakielashek decided to call it a career, and the department has not let him forget it.
Known as Castor’s “Best Dressed Firefighter,” Mike was honoured in the fall of 2018 by the Fire Department team to thank him for his service to the department and the community.
However, his fellow firefighters were not the only ones honour him, though. With over 1250 recorded calls during his over three decades of service, Mike received the Governor General’s Fire Services Exemplary Service Award with the 22- and 32-year bars in the fall of 2017.
“Mike took all the courses and was willing to take the training,” said Castor Fire Chief Patrick Kelly. “He was always willing to lend a hand, and the first one to volunteer for things.”
Mike’s commitment to the residents of Castor did not start and stop with the fire department — though that is where he spent countless hours training and on calls — he also years working for the Town as it’s CAO until his retirement in 2010.
It was his days as CAO of the Town that earned him the “Best Dressed Firefighter” moniker, where he would show up at the fire hall for calls wearing his shirt and tie, some of which allegedly didn’t survive the callout.
“He ruined quite a few shirts,” laughed Chief Kelly while talking about Mike’s retirement.
Mike couldn’t have spent the time he did on the Fire Department without the support of his wife, Debbie.
“You worried, but it never bothered me,” said Debbie when talking about Mike’s days on the department. “You never knew what he was going to. The other wives would look after each other for the 12 to 14 hours the guys would be out on a call. It was what he wanted to do.”
“He’s taking retirement very well,” she added. “He misses the guys. He misses seeing them every second and fourth Tuesday of the month when they train. They are the most amazing group of people. He trusted them with his life.”
Not content to get bored in retirement, Mike works four days a week for Paintearth Regional Waste Management as the Transfer Station Supervisor for the County of Paintearth.
The Castor Volunteer Fire Department trains twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 7 p.m. In contrast to many volunteer departments across the province that struggle to maintain members, Castor’s department is currently fully staffed with volunteers and has a positive outlook for the next few years.
“We’re set for the next 5 years,” said Chief Kelly. “We have a core group that’s been together for twenty-plus years.”
For more information related to the Castor Volunteer Fire Department, contact Fire Chief Kelly to inquire about any potential volunteer opprotunities.