After 45 years with the La Broquerie Fire Department, Chief Alain Nadeau has announced his retirement. 

“We’ve got a good bunch of people, so it’ll be a smooth transition,” he says. “They’ll do a good job.” 

Nadeau joined the fire department when he was 19 years old, becoming one of 11 firefighters to serve the municipality. 

On May 10th of 1979, Nadeau responded to his first call.  

“The equipment was terrible,” Nadeau says, reflecting on his early years as a firefighter. 

Firefighters transported in a bus to the scene, and their turnout gear was in the bus, he says. 

“Equipment has changed. Even the turnout gear is much better,” Nadeau says, recalling the long rubber boots, “and the coat you’d wear was like a dress, really, and then a helmet with a bit of a balaclava for your ears so you wouldn’t burn your ears.” 

He credits his wife, Anne, for also playing a key role in supporting him through the years. 

“We got married September 1st and there were meetings (for the fire department) ever since,” she says. 

While Anne did not respond to emergency scenes, she was still instrumental in getting her husband to the fire hall. 

“I remember the red phone, I'd get a call in the house, ‘there’s a fire,’ he’d be in the field, and I’d have to go run to the field to get him, to tell him there was a fire,” she says. 

During those first years of the La Broquerie Fire Department, there were no pagers and no cell phones. 

“We had three or four of the wives, they had red phones, 911 phones,” Nadeau explains. “And then they had a certain list of people they had to call. So, then the house would get the call, and she'd come and get me from the barn or in the field. And we would all go meet at the fire hall and take off. It was not the same technology as today.” 

During the early years, Nadeau says they responded to around 10 to 12 fire calls per year, with Steinbach’s firefighters taking care of motor vehicle collisions. 

Exterior of new fire hall with Chief Alain Nadeau standing outside.Chief Alain Nadeau at the new fire hall in 2023. His children David, Janelle, and Alex are following in his footsteps, also serving on the fire department.

Now, La Broquerie Fire responds to a variety of emergency calls including collisions, with around 100 calls per year. The department has grown from 11 firefighters to over 30. 

“And some of them are long calls where you’d be gone all day or all night,” Nadeau says. 

Many of those calls seemed to come during suppertime. 

“More times than not, when supper’s ready, the pager goes off,” Anne says. 

Nadeau says he joined the fire department in search of something different than farming, an adrenaline rush, perhaps. 

Anne says the many years of service comes from a strong desire to help people, a passion to serve the community. 

While there have been some difficult calls, Nadeau is quick to point out highlights that bring a smile to his face. 

The new fire hall is something he had dreamed of for many years, and now it’s constructed and being used by the men and women who are dedicated to serving the community during emergency situations. 

He says they become a family, with strong relationships, looking out for each other in dangerous situations and afterward. 

There are also many firefighters who are family members outside the fire hall. 

Nadeau notes there are current firefighters who are following in the footsteps of their fathers who were on the original crew that started in 1979. Three of his own children also became firefighters in La Broquerie. 

“They started with us when they were young, they joined, they loved it so much and then they decided they wanted to do it professionally. That’s really heartwarming. We turn over a lot of professionals out of our little fire hall.” 

Nadeau went on his first fire call on May 10th, 1979, and then announced his retirement on May 10th, 2024. 

He appreciates serving on the department with many great firefighters including his cousin Pierre Nadeau, who has also chosen July 1st as his final day with La Broquerie Fire after 37 years with the department. The two men decided to retire together. 

“He’s been very patient, he’s been waiting for me for a while,” Nadeau says. 

After July 1st, Nadeau will find a new normal, spending more time on his farm and working on the yard, cherishing every moment with his family. His eyes sparkle when he talks about his children and grandchildren following his footsteps in serving the community. Nadeau laughs as he talks about maybe rejoining the fire department for a day when his granddaughter becomes a firefighter.

With the laughter and pride in the Nadeau home, there is also a lot of heart and compassion for the entire community. Both Nadeau and his wife are confident the current firefighting family and generations to come will continue to do a great job in serving the people of the municipality and beyond the borders.