Ron Heisler, who has been a volunteer firefighter in Qu’Appelle for 34 years, has been named CTV’s Hometown Hero.

In 2001, Heisler was appointed fire chief by the town and rural municipality. He currently leads 22 members of the Qu’Appelle Fire and Rescue.

“It’s quite an honour to be chief,” Heisler said. “I’ve been lieutenant before that and then I went straight up to chief. Knowledge has really paid off and I work with a great team, which makes my job so much easier.”

When he isn’t fighting fires, Heisler is a CPR instructor, coaches the air cadet’s curling team and helps raise funds for the fire hall.

Heisler takes time to help train the younger firefighters. Tanika Foster, 17, is the fire hall’s newest member and says she’s learned a lot from Heisler.

“I feel safe going out on the highway knowing that he’s the fire chief because he always wants to bring people home safe and making sure everybody is doing what they need to be doing,” Foster said.

Heisler’s efforts have been recognized by his fellow firefighters. Heisler received the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association’s lifetime achievement award. The award is only handed out once a year in Canada.

“We’ve always known that he’s been a local hero for the last three decades plus and it’s nice to have him finally receive the recognition that he deserves,” said Qu’Appelle Mayor Ryan Demyen.

A fire that Heisler particularly remembers was when the historic Queen’s Hotel burned down in 2003. He recalled the challenging conditions his crew went through.

“I remember holding the hose and went into the meat market to undo my strap. My suit was so cold I broke the strap trying to open it up. I think it was minus-40 that night. I was crazy,” he said.

Looking ahead, Heisler says he was no plans of slowing down and wants to continue to service his community.

“I just want to say thank you to all my fire members. Without them none of this would happen… I figure eight years and they can push me around with a wheelchair,” he said.