Forget about spending your senior years relaxing or pursuing non-stressful hobbies. Lester McInally, a 73-year-old grandmother, spends part of her retirement as a firefighter with the White Lake Fire Department in Canada.
Every Tuesday night is fire practice and each week without fail the fiery grandma joins the firefighting team, donning boots, jacket and helmet before setting off on the fire truck.
McInally, from Canada’s British Columbia, has been an important part of the local fire station for nearly two decades, when she and her husband first started volunteering.
“We decided that we’d better join the fire department because they were giving us the protection that we needed,” the 73-year-old granny told CBC News.
McInally’s husband has retired from volunteering with the fire station but she is still at it. She has served a number of roles within the station and while she no longer picks up the hose, she still plays an important support role.
“I’m part of the team, just being there, volunteering,” she said, according to the stations’ website. “When that pager goes off, I’m down at the hall. I’m there because I know I’m needed.”
McInally explained to CBC that, when there is a call out, she acts as staging officer.
“It’s basically keeping track of all the members that are there and then in the evening or after the incident, I make sure that all of them are accounted for and that they’re all going home safe to their families.”
According to the White Lake Fire Department, the firefighting grandmother is a bit of a den mother, helping with administrative paperwork as well as with the community education and events including the Christmas Food Drive, the annual Halloween celebrations and fireworks, and community pancake breakfasts.
“It’s part of my life,” McInally told CBC. “I’ve been with them probably longer than I had any other office job.”
McInally joined the station as a way of giving back and also because she wanted to meet people but it grew into something so much more. After all these years she now shares a close bond with her community and fellow fire fighters.
“It does feel like a home, like you are part of a group, a family,” she said. “You see someone with a fire jacket on somewhere in the community and you have an instant connection because you have firefighting in common.”