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For 39 years Norm Hales called the Moose Jaw Fire Department his "second home", now he'll begin a new chapter in his life but anticipates it won't be much different.

Hales started in 1978 "riding on the back of the fire truck", with hard work and dedication that lead to promotions throughout his career before finally finishing as Platoon Commander.

He says he can't pick out a single favorite moment in his career, but said there's one thing for sure, he's going to miss his team.

"Working with the guys that I did... Moose Jaw's fortunate to have just a fantastic fire service here and it's made up of great guys. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that and still am," said Hale. "I don't think there was any single thing that was a highlight, I think the entire 39 years was a highlight for myself."

During his years of service Hales was awarded a number of medals, such as receiving the Carnegie Hero award for lifesaving efforts while off duty and he said that will be the one he remembers the most.

"Myself and another firefighter were off duty and we were golfing at the time. A young fellow had got washed into a fast flowing creek, we ended up saving him. We were awarded those honours and that's the one that means the most to myself."

Hales was also given the Canadian Medal of Bravery by the Governor General of Canada, an Exemplary Service Medal, the Saskatchewan Protective Service Medal and the Moose Jaw Medal of Merit.

He noted that firefighting is a "completely different ballgame" now when compared to his first years on the job and has some advice for up and coming firefighters or those thinking about a career in the industry.

"Persevere and prepare yourself. The guys that have been getting hired they're in absolute top condition, they study hard for the exams they're going to write and they prepare themselves to get onto those positions and it's not easy. The advice would be work really hard, do what you can and it'll pay off in the end."

Hales not only had talents when it came to being a firefighter, he was also a gifted curler. He represented Saskatchewan on a national stage a few times and became a two time Canadian Champion at the Canadian Association of Firefighters Curling Championships.

Now that he's retired all he plans to do is spend more time with his family and travel more, but doesn't expect dramatic changes.

Hales added when you spend 14 hours a night and 10 hour days together with your team, you become as good of friends as anybody could be. Ultimately, it was about trust for him. He trusted his team and will miss looking out for his coworkers and his team doing the same for him. 

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