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jennifer-mabeeFeb. 27, 2012 - My 12-year-old daughter’s hockey team is done for the season so they jumped at the chance to play in an exhibition game on the weekend. There are 13 kids on her team. Seven showed up – eight if you include the goalie. As you hockey fans out there know, that left just two on the bench. It wasn’t looking good for the Wildcats.

February 27, 2012
By Jennifer Grigg

Feb. 27, 2012 – My 12-year-old daughter’s hockey team is done for the
season so they jumped at the chance to play in an exhibition game on the
weekend. There are 13 kids on her team. Seven showed up – eight if you
include the goalie. As you hockey fans out there know, that left just
two on the bench. It wasn’t looking good for the Wildcats.

So how’d they do? Well, the final score was 6-1 but despite the loss, they did an incredible job. They played hard and gave it their all. As I was watching the game, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between my daughter’s hockey team and the fire department. (I’ve found that since becoming a blogger, I tend to compare everything to being a volunteer firefighter. . . kind of have to or I’d have nothing to blog about.)

First of all, with volunteer fire departments, you never know who will show up. Arguably, there are the ones who make most of the calls and it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll be there, but even they can’t make every call. And not every hockey player can make every game.

Which means that the coach (in the case of my daughter’s hockey team) or the officer in charge at a fire call, has to work with what (or who) he’s got.

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With just two on the bench, the coach had the players covering whatever position needed to be covered at the time. He didn’t have the luxury of simply changing lines when they needed a break, and the players had to dig deep when what they really wanted was a rest.

Ideally, having more than enough firefighters is what the incident commander wants to have on the scene. As a firefighter once told me, “It’s better to look at it than look for it,” whether it be extra tankers (which is what we were talking about at the time) or manpower.

But this is a volunteer fire department that we’re talking about, and although we will always do everything we can at every call to which we respond, sometimes it is harder than others when you have a limited number of firefighters. Fortunately, we can always call in another station for extra manpower or trucks. The coach of the hockey team didn’t have that option.

Something else that struck me while watching the game was how hard the kids were playing, even though it was an exhibition game. Technically, the score didn’t matter. The team is done for the season. (The other team is still in their playoffs, so it was good practice for them, but they had a full roster.) My daughter’s team was giving it their all – all eight of them – for the sheer sport of it.

It made me think of training. If morale and attendance fall by the wayside, it’s going to be most evident on training nights. Training may not have the adrenaline rush or the excitement level of going to a call, but it’s a necessary part of what we do. If you don’t train, you don’t know. It’s as simple as that. You don’t know what to do or what’s expected of you. Which is why as new recruits, you complete a 100-hour training course before you even start going to calls with your station.

Training is the backbone of being a volunteer firefighter. Like playing in an exhibition game, it’s your chance to give it your all when the score doesn’t matter and it’s simply for the sheer love of the game. It’s bringing the enthusiasm and passion to the table all the time, just because you can, and because it’s the right thing to do.