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Career fire officer humbled by volunteers


November 14, 2011
By Bob Krause

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Editor’s note: Bob Krause, a battalion chief in Toledo, Ohio, has become a bit of a Bluenoser, having taught workshops at FDIC Atlantic in Wolfville, N.S., for the last few years. Krause was invited to instruct at the Colchester County Firefighters Association seminar in early November. A longtime career firefighter and officer, Krause learned a little bit himself in Truro, N.S., about the Canadian volunteer fire service, its dedicated men and women and the professionalism that they exhibit on the job and in their communities. Watch for Krause’s series on fire-ground attack in Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly starting in January.

Nov. 14, 2011 – On Nov. 5 and 6 I was in Truro, N.S., to speak at the Colchester County Firefighters Association seminar. The seminar was held at the local college and more than 100 firefighters attended. Firefighters from most of the county’s fire departments were in attendance.

Editor’s note: Bob Krause, a battalion chief in Toledo, Ohio, has become a bit of a Bluenoser, having taught workshops at FDIC Atlantic in Wolfville, N.S., for the last few years. Krause was invited to instruct at the Colchester County Firefighters Association seminar in early November. A longtime career firefighter and officer, Krause learned a little bit himself in Truro, N.S., about the Canadian volunteer fire service, its dedicated men and women and the professionalism that they exhibit on the job and in their communities. Watch for Krause’s series on fire-ground attack in Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly starting in January.

Nov. 14, 2011 – On Nov. 5 and 6 I was in Truro, N.S., to speak at the Colchester County Firefighters Association seminar. The seminar was held at the local college and more than 100 firefighters attended. Firefighters from most of the county’s fire departments were in attendance. A tremendous amount of preparation was involved, and the Colchester Firefighters Association board of directors worked hard to ensure that the conference would be meaningful to the attendees. The course topics for the seminar were wide-ranging and covered search, fire attack, incident command and firefighter safety.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a group of firefighters eager to learn new material and improve upon things that they already knew. I made it very clear from the beginning that I was not there to lecture to them, rather, I was there to discuss with them firefighting strategy and tactics and firefighter safety, and that our time together was going to be more of a discussion and not merely a lecture during which I showed them PowerPoint slides, dull videos and slowly put them to sleep.

As the day continued, the firefighters in the room impressed me with their knowledge of fire fighting, incident command and firefighter safety. The room was filled with men and women of a variety of experience levels, from a brother in his 70s, to a young man named Evan who was just 16 years old, and an inexperienced, yet eager young woman named Jessica, to name a few. These participants were engaged and paid close attention, often asking pointed questions and contributing to the learning of all in attendance.

During our breaks I had opportunities to speak with several of the firefighters individually and in small groups to discuss issues in their departments and to answer questions and clarify information that I presented earlier. I was very impressed with each of the firefighters with whom I spoke; I was impressed with their dedication, their commitment and their intense desire to help people in their respective communities. As far as I know, all who attended are volunteer firefighters who hold full-time jobs in another profession. Fire fighting requires a significant time commitment toward station maintenance, training and community events, and responding to calls for help can be very taxing for these volunteers. I have no reason to believe that it is any different for any of the other thousands of volunteer firefighters across Canada. I am humbled by your dedication and service to your communities.

While I was in Truro, I had the good fortune to visit two of the local fire brigades. Salmon River Fire Brigade was my first stop. I was invited to the brigade’s annual pig roast with more than 100 community members in attendance and showing their support for the fire department. Salmon River has about 40 active volunteer firefighters serving the community. I was given a tour of the firehall; it is a converted schoolhouse and opened its doors in 1961. The inside is modern, well-furnished and rivals any full-time metropolitan fire station that I have seen. Not wanting to waste any space, the numbers built an SCBA confidence course in the attic of the firehall where members can train year-round in dry, warm conditions to improve their skills in using breathing apparatus. As I spoke with members of the Salmon River Fire Brigade I was inspired by their ideas and energy. They told me they were not unique; their commitment to training is shared by many of their fellow fire brigades in the county, many other brigades have training mockups, and sharing of training equipment often occurrs.

My second stop was the Bible Hill Fire Brigade, also in Colchester County. Its array of fire equipment and large, new additions to the fire station were equally impressive. It, too, had built a training simulator to practise firefighter rescue – another example of the members’ dedication to their communities, each other and themselves. It cannot be understated or forgotten that these men and women are volunteers; they do this willingly, with no expectation of enriching their pocketbooks. They do it out of a sense of duty, devotion and a desire to belong to the fraternity of firefighters.

Thank you to the Colchester County Firefighters Association for allowing me to speak at this seminar and for welcoming me into the firefighting community. You should be very proud of what you’re doing. Your actions clearly demonstrate that it is not mandatory for you to be a member of a large metropolitan fire department to be a good firefighter.


Bob Krause is a battalion chief with the City of Toledo, Ohio, fire department and is assigned to Battalion 2. He has 32 years of experience in emergency services. He holds an International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) certification and several other EMS and fire certifications. Krause has held a variety of positions in the fire service including engine company officer, fire training officer, Fire & EMS Academy program director, fire/EMS communications supervisor, and chief of emergency medical services. He is working to complete his doctorate in emergency management. E-mail him at rcktfd@bex.net


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