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April 14, 2013
By Laura King


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April 14, 2013, Calgary, Alta. – If the success of a road trip can be measured by the volume of swag in your travel bag, then this journey to the 2013 Peace Regional Fire Chiefs/Northwest Fire Conference was a home run: Grande Prairie Fire Department challenge coin (more on those later), Peace River Fire Department t-shirt, Smokey River Fire Department hoodie (a surprise gift last evening that blew me away), and gorgeous firefighter artwork by local sketch artist . . . all of which means that my winter jacket is still in Peace River along with my fire boots to be shipped home, because there was no room in my gargantuan suitcase. In this case, that’s very nice!



April 14, 2013, Calgary, Alta. – If the success of a road
trip can be measured by the volume of swag in your travel bag, then this
journey to the 2013 Peace Regional Fire Chiefs/Northwest Fire Conference was a home
run: Grande Prairie Fire Department challenge coin (more on those later), Peace
River Fire Department t-shirt, Smokey River Fire Department hoodie (a surprise
gift last evening that blew me away), and gorgeous firefighter artwork by local
sketch artist . . . all of which means that my winter jacket is still in Peace
River along with my fire boots to be shipped home, because there was no room in
my gargantuan suitcase. In this case, that’s very nice!




My trip today – Peace River to Grande Prairie to Calgary
(where I have a 3.5-hour layover) to Toronto, runs about 12 hours, if all goes according to plan. There was
an option to get an earlier flight out of Calgary but it stops in Winnipeg and gets
to Toronto less than 30 minutes sooner, and I’m growing a bit tired of the
earbuds-in-earbuds-out-puh-lease-turn-off-your-phone-now-flight-attendant-glare, so I opted
to stay in YYC and write/edit – although I’m somewhat distracted by Twitter
today and the trials and tribulations of fellow traveller-presenter and
situational awareness guru Rich Gasaway (@RichGasaway), who has the cover story
in the June issue of Fire Fighting in
Canada
and whose schedule today is coming off the rails with mechanical
difficulties in Atlanta. (Can you tell I’m a bit travel weary – that’s the
longest sentence I’ve ever written!).




Back to the challenge coins. I had written from Ottawa in
March about the CAFC’s challenge coins and, um, challenged readers to explain
the significance of the coins. I owe coins to Canadian Firefighter columnist Ken Sheridan and Caldeon firefighter
Colin Hanna for their quick and accurate responses (you can find out more here),
and I was delighted when Grande Prairie Deputy Chief Kieran Moore gave me the
department’s challenge coin Tuesday night at the airport before he drove me to
Peace River.




I don’t think I ever told the story about Cape Breton
Regional Deputy Chief Brent Denny receiving a challenge coin from Defence
Minister Peter MacKay during the CAFC’s government relations week in Ottawa in
March – CAFC members had given challenge coins to MPs with whom they met to
discuss fire-service issues. At a reception the evening after Brent gave the
coin to MacKay, the defence minister subtly gave Brent a DND/Peter MacKay
challenge coin, a very smooth and cool move that left others in the room (who
shall remain nameless!) somewhat jealous. Blogger/photographer Rob Evans and I
got a DND pins. I digress.




The City of Grande Prairie celebrates its centennial in 2014
and has lured the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association north (its conference is
usually in Edmonton or Red Deer) and the Peace Regional Fire Chiefs south, for one
concurrent conference in the spring. Both Grande Prairie fire departments – the
city and the county – are excited to host the larger event and there’s quite a
buzz about bringing more southern Alberta chiefs up north and a bigger trade
show.




Meantime, the Peace River Fire Department celebrates its 100th
anniversary next year (this link is a bit out of date but you get the gist – peaceriver.ca/residents/peace-river-fire-department/)
and wants to mark the milestone with some kind of training event for its
members and neighbouring departments.




I have no doubt that both celebrations will live up to the
high standards set this week at the 2013 Northwest Fire Conference, which, by
all accounts from those who have been involved for some or all of its 18 years, was the most successful, with a second day of live fire training and intense
but entertaining technical sessions. I’m told the not-a-keynote presentation wasn’t
bad either!




Flight is boarding. Fingers crossed for a snafu-free trip to
Toronto.


 



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