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Comment: All fired up about fundraising

Occasionally we meet people who inspire us to do better – to aim higher, reach farther, give more, complain less. I met Chad Sartison at the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association conference.

February 4, 2009 
By Laura King

Occasionally we meet people who inspire us to do better – to aim higher, reach farther, give more, complain less. I met Chad Sartison at the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association conference. I thought I was walking into a discussion about recruitment and retention and I was confused by Sartison’s youth and inexperience – he’d been a volunteer firefighter for just a few years.

His passion, depth and intelligence quickly became clear. He talked about simple things like making the fire hall a comfortable place where men and women want to spend time, about creating and maintaining respect by getting rid of the bad apples, and about the frustrations of departments that don’t have enough money to outfit their firefighters.

Sartison was a cancer survivor, he had done well as a financial planner and he wanted to give back.

Admittedly, I was skeptical about Sartisan’s The Fire Within calendar fundraising project. Later, I met Sartisan at a Starbucks near Toronto. He had raced from meetings with firefighters in Niagara Falls and was en route to Kingston to talk about the program. I had read up on The Fire Within and talked to chiefs who had participated. I couldn’t find a catch but I had to know for sure: was Sartisan making money from The Fire Within at the expense of departments that could barely scrape together money to buy bunker gear? Nope. Not a penny. Photographer Charles Hope is paid, as are two administrators. The Fire Within makes no money above that to cover the three salaries. Recently, after three years with no pay, Sartisan started collecting a modest salary. He guarantees that no department will lose money through The Fire Within.


As James Careless reports on page 14, departments have made between $6,000 and $40,000 (with additional sponsorship) from the sale of The Fire Within calendars. And as Randy Schroeder, the fire chief in Mayerthorpe, Alta., explains, “We raised twice the money in half the time with a third of the effort.”

Sometimes, first impressions are deceiving.

Recently, I asked 13 officers and industry experts to help me with this magazine, to guide me on content and advise me on issues that touch the fire service. All responded enthusiastically and have become our 2009 editorial advisory board. I’ll introduce them to you here; you can see their photos and biographies on our website. Thanks to all for their guidance, wisdom and patience: Richard Boyes, chief, Oakville, Ont., president, OAFC; Brian Cornforth, chief, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services, first vice-president, AAFC; Tom DeSorcy, chief, Hope, B.C., director, FCABC; Len Garis, chief, Surrey Fire Service, B.C.; David Hodgins, managing director, Alberta Emergency Management Agency; Cammie Laird, chief, Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services, Alta., secretary/treasure, AAFC; Robert Simonds, chief, St. John Fire Department,  president, NBAFC; Sean Tracey, Canadian regional manager, NFPA; Bernard Turpin, administrative chief, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, president, MAFC; Serge Tremblay, director, Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal, president ACSIQ; Randy Vilneff, training officer, Marmora & Lake Fire Department, Ont.; Neville Wheaton, chief, Corner Brook Fire Department; Bruce Whitehouse, president, WHITING Group of Canada (Amdor), Burlington, Ont.

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