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On the road (yet) again . . .


October 27, 2010
By Laura King


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It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks of road trips and deadlines so it’s time, yet again, to play catch up. Warning: this is a lengthy blog entry – get a coffee!
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The first of three recent roadtrips was to Rama, Ont., home of the spectacular Casino Rama and an equally impressive fire station (details in a future issue of FFIC) on Saturday, Oct. 16. The Simcoe County Mutual-Aid Association, under the more-than-capable leadership of President Jamie Simpson, hosted firefighter safety guru and renowned speaker Billy Goldfeder.




Depending
on who you ask, Richmond Hill Chief Steve Kraft either opened for Goldfeder, or
Goldfeder closed for Kraft . . . either way, the 500 firefighters and officers
who took in Kraft’s presentation on leadership and Goldfeder’s Not Everyone Goes Home seminar were
treated to a fantastic day of lessons learned and make-you-think stories that
no doubt left long-lasting impressions.

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Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder’s Not Everyone Goes Home presentation is a must see. Photo by Laura King.


 


If you’ve seen Goldfeder’s presentation, it’s
worth seeing again with the addition of new material in the Robin
Broxterman/Brian Schira case study from Colerain Township, Ohio, in 2008. If you’re not familiar with the story
of the fatalities of Capt. Broxterman and firefighter Schria you can read more
in the NIOSH report here.




Remarkably,
after the NIOSH report was released in June of this year, and after the
Colerain Township fire chief agreed that all the facts should be made public,
including details about several mistakes that Broxterman made, a local TV
station interviewed Broxterman’s 10- and 12-year-old daughters, who were upset that
the report said their mother did some things wrong, and they lashed out at the
fire department. (The story behind this story includes a lawsuit, a messy
divorce and custody battles over the two girls.)


You can
see a story about the NIOSH report at Cincinnati.com.






And you
can see the video of the interview with Broxterman’s daughters here.


Making
public the lessons learned in the Broxterman/Schira case is necessary to help
firefighters learn. Interviewing Broxterman’s children is despicable.


The
second road trip was on Monday, Oct. 18, to Howick Township, in midwestern Ontario, about 2.5 hours northwest
of  Toronto. I was the guest speaker at the
Huron County Mutual-Aid Association meeting (and the dinner guest at the home
of Chief Bill Doig and his wife Shirley, along with Deputy Chief Dale Edgar and
his wife Linda).

 gorrie-smaller 
Members of the Huron County Mutual-Aid
Association peruse issues of Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly
during a mutual-aid presentation by editor Laura King on Oct. 18. Photo
by Laura King.


 


First,
it’s inadvisable to be the guest speaker anywhere two days after seeing a Billy
Goldfeder presentation – he’s witty, engaging and holds a room of 500
firefighter rapt for five hours despite uncomfortable chairs and the lure of
the slot machines next door.


But the
50 or so firefighters and chief officers at the Huron County mutual-aid meeting were engaging
and insightful when asked for feedback about Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian
Firefighter and EMS Quarterly, and I left with some great ideas for our magazines.


Over
dinner, I heard the story of the Gorrie Fire Department, its near demise and
the gumption of those who fought to keep it. The passion and commitment of the
23 volunteer firefighters and chief officers in Gorrie is abundantly obvious,
even after a less-than-amicable split from their previous governing fire board
and a sometimes strained relationship with the departments in the mutual-aid
area as a result of amalgamation.


Billy
Goldfeder gives great presentations but I learned as much or more in Gorrie about
mutual aid and brotherhood as I did in Rama!




Last
Friday, Oct. 22, I drove to Woodstock, Ont., to meet acting Chief Ian
Shelter of the Napanee Fire Department. Shelter was in Woodstock to present a plaque of thanks to
the crews who responded to a bus crash on Highway 401 on Aug. 22 in which several
Napanee firefighters were injured and the wife of a firefighter was killed. The
group was returning from London, Ont., where several firefighters
had been hospitalized after their van crashed the day before following a
FireFit competition in Windsor, Ont.


Shelter’s
wife, Laurie, was seriously injured in the bus crash – a broken back and
shoulder and facial injuries that required plastic surgery. Ian and Laurie have
six children ranging from 11 to 20. The day of the crash reporters showed up at
their door and confronted their children.

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Ian Shelter (left), acting chief in Napanee, Ont., enjoys a lighter moment with Woodstock Chief Ian Tegler and Deputy Chief Brian Arnold after presenting crews with a plaque of thanks. Photo by Laura King.


 


Ian and
Laurie are still reeling from the crash and the presentation last Friday to the
Woodstock crews was extremely emotional and
touching. It’s rare for firefighters to have subsequent contact with those they
rescue but Shelter felt the need to recognize the crews and to find a bit of personal
closure.


The
Napanee Fire Department is working to find a new chief (Chief George Hanmore
died of cancer in May) and is looking for recruits – four firefighters injured
in the crash are off work indefinitely. Spare a thought for these guys. They
need our support.


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