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Jongeling honored for 50 years as firefighter

Harvey Jongeling is a familiar face in the Chancellor community. He and his wife Vera moved to Chancellor in 1963, and it was in January of 1964 that he joined the Chancellor Volunteer Fire Department.

It wasn’t that he went down to the station to sign up those many years ago, it was more of a recruitment. Harvey shared the fond memory of how it all began, “Me and Vera had moved to town. I was sitting in the trailer house, I could see the elevators and then I saw a guy trudging in the snow. He knocks on my door and asks if I’ll join the Fire Department.”

That gentleman was Bill Lower, the secretary for the fire department at that time. Harvey said, “I told him I’d think about it.”

His wife offered some advice however that tipped the scale. Harvey recalled what she told him, “She said, ‘how could you say no when a guy walks three and half blocks in a blizzard in December?’”

Harvey went right down to the Fire Department and joined soon after. This year marks his 50th year volunteering with the Chancellor Fire Department. He retired for several years in 2006, but joined the department again in 2008 when they were short-handed.

In his 50 years on the department Harvey has held the position of Chief, Assistant Chief, and Secretary. When he first joined, the department had one truck — a 1947 Studebaker and a 1000 gallon tanker that sat empty. Harvey said they had to fill it every time they needed to use it.

Now the Chancellor Fire Department has five trucks ready to go and a relatively new fire station built in the 1990’s.

Harvey said the department has always had at least 20 on its roster, in 1980 he said they had 25 members and all of them lived in town. That has changed over the years; the department currently has 25 members but a lot are from the rural area.

The Chancellor Department responds to an average of 100 calls a year. These calls include not only fire but medical and car accidents as well. With no ambulance service in Chancellor the Fire Department is dispatched on all medical calls. The car accidents have changed over the years too. Harvey attributes this to the higher speeds that are driven. He said the department now has it’s second set of extrication tools. Before the tools evolved, to what they are now, Harvey said they were using hand tools and pry bars.

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