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Alberta bound . . . and back

Friday, June 25, 2010

Played catch up yesterday after arriving home late Wednesday night from the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association conference in Edmonton. Congrats to past AFCA president Brian McEvoy and working group members, along with Volunteer Alberta, which has put together a fabulous recruitment and retention tool kit for volunteer departments that, hopefully, will be used a model right across the country. We’ll do a full story on the document shortly in Fire Fighting in Canada.

June 25, 2010 
By Laura King

While several fire chiefs from southwestern Ontario are in beautiful Hunstvile,
Ont., today for the G8 summit – more on that in a minute – Midland Fire Chief
Kevin Foster has his hands full with the aftermath of a tornado that ripped
through his town Wednesday afternoon. You can see some remarkable photos here.
We’ll follow up with Chief Foster for a story when the dust settles.

Back to
the G8 – you may remember that Huntsville Fire Chief Steve Hernen was
unceremoniously demoted after an alleged security breach in May. Hernen has nearly unanimous support from
fire chiefs across
Ontario who are bending my ear on this
and it’s clear that there’s way more to this story. We’ll take a close look at
the events in
Huntsville when the security is lifted and
report back.


And, back
Edmonton . . . I was in an airplane Sunday
when an explosion tore apart a north
Edmonton neighbourhood but I went to the
site Monday afternoon with Edmonton District Chief Stan Symes (Guess where he’s
from originally – uh huh,
Amherst, N.S. – never fails!)

25 Capt. John Bowers was first on scene Sunday and told me Monday it was eerily
reminiscent of the 1987 tornado that cut a swath through the city.

Two of
the guys from Station 1 who I did a ride along with on
Monday had been brought in to the explosion scene Sunday afternoon. They found
the second body.

By the
time I got to the scene it was cordoned off for a homicide investigation so we
weren’t allowed in but we managed to get some photos from a field behind the
devastated homes.

As CBC News reported yesterday, multiple sources saw a woman's bound and wrapped body carried out of the
wreckage of the home that exploded. I heard similar rumblings on Monday. You
can read the
CBC story here and here are some photos taken Monday afternoon.

Demolition began Monday on several garages and homes. Note the debris on the rooftops. Photo by Laura King.  
Note the tree on the right – on the lawn of the house across the street from the explosion – that was sheared off and is full of debris. Photo by Laura King.  


And now, finally, a word of caution. If I
ever phone or e-mail you asking to do a ridealong in your region, be prepared.
Two years ago I went to Lethbridge, Alta., to learn more about combined
fire/EMS and rode with firefighter/paramedics Scott Lane and Randy Crow. We did
some routine medical calls and then I ducked out with a deupty chief to look at
an aerial truck when a call came in for a fire in a highrise. I got great
photos, some of which have been used in Canadian
Firefighter and EMS Quarterly
, and witnessed Lethbridge’s longtime fire/EMS
system at work.

In March, I had some work to do in Hastings
County, Ont., and went to Kingston the next day to shoot some photos. I had
just met Capt. Shawn Babcock and his crew when the tone sounded for . . . a fire
in a highrise. Interesting scenario – pot on a stove, unit crammed with stuff. Hoarder.

Monday, in Edmonton, I went on the rescue
truck with driver Courtney Polson, Rescue Capt. Terry Henirich and firefighters
Luke Dusza and Todd Molineaux. We did an alarm call at a community centre
(smoke in the kitchen) then snuck out for a Starbucks (thanks captain!) before
heading back to make lunch. A call came in for the unglamorous task of
unclogging a needle deposit box at a community centre – a task probably not
unique to Edmonton Fire but not common to many Canadian departments – so I went
with the crew – Capt. Gerrit Meulenkamp (a Maritimer who's long overdue for a trip home!), driver Lee Juhaszi and firefighters
Troy Treit and Dave Schenk. On the way back we got a call for . . . a fire in a
highrise. Twelfth floor. Smoke showing. Interesting scenario. Mattress burning.
Unit crammed with stuff. Hoarder.

Here are some photos of our day.

Morning health and safety/Fit for Duty briefing at Station 1 in Edmonton Monday with (left) Luke Dusza, Troy Treit, Todd Molineaux, Capt. Gerrit Meulenkamp, Lee Josahzi, rescue Capt. Terry Heinrich, Courtney Polson and Dave Schenk. Photo by Laura King.  


Troy Treit and Dave Schenk after getting the call for the highrise fire.  Photo by Laura King.  


Firefighters toss the smouldering mattress out the 12th storey window. Photo by Laura King.  

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