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June 12, 2012, Redwood Meadows – In our part of Alberta, we have spent the last week watching water levels and rain gauges, expecting the best while preparing for the worst. Well, actually we are pretty well prepared for the worst. Everything that can be done in the community to prepare for the spring runoff and possible flooding that comes along with it is being done.

June 12, 2012
By Rob Evans

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June 12, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – In our part of Alberta, we have spent the last week watching water levels and rain gauges, expecting the best while preparing for the worst. Well, actually we are pretty well prepared for the worst. Everything that can be done in the community to prepare for the spring runoff and possible flooding that comes along with it is being done.

Forecasters began calling for up to 100 millimetres to fall in our response areas and to the west of us in the mountain parks. This equates to the total normal amount for June. That, combined with runoff of an above-normal snowpack in the mountains, could create huge problems for our community. During a similar situation in June 2005, Redwood Meadows came very close to losing almost half of the town because of the Elbow River overflowing its banks.

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Flooding from 2005 make the banks of the Elbow River unrecognizable from the mountains right into Calgary.
Photo by Rob Evans.

This time around, knock wood, we were lucky; the rain came, but not as predicted. Although still high, the river level reflects normal spring runoff from the mountains and is already receding. That being said, we will continue to watch the water as more rain is forecast and the snow is still very prominent on those mountain peaks.

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Fellow firefighter, friend and photographer Shane MacKichan from Vancouver mentioned on Facebook that I should talk a bit about mutual aid. Redwood Meadows Emergency Services is lucky to have a great group of neighboring departments that we lean on. We very, very rarely call on all of them at once but during a service-station fire in January that’s just what we needed to do. Rocky View County (four stations), Cochrane and Priddis fire departments were all called to the scene.

Make sure you work with your neighbors. This doesn’t just mean meeting once a year to sign an agreement or saying hi in passing at Home Depot. Learn about their departments, meet their members, and familiarize yourselves with their response areas and equipment. Most importantly, teach them about your own departments. I think we have all been guilty of not selling our departments or firefighters as much as they deserve.

This week, the Alberta Fire Chief’s Association (AFCA) holds its annual conference in Edmonton. I am unable to attend because of the paying job. It seems that my work schedule tends to fall that way most years since I have become a chief. Nothing new here, I know that. The frustrating part is that I can’t seem to network with fellow Alberta chiefs like I do at each year’s Fire-Rescue Canada, the Canadian Association of Fire Chief’s show. Not all departments can afford travel to the yearly provincial and Canadian shows, but if these events are being held close to you, every effort should be made to attend. As I have stated before, the networking and knowledge that you can take away is immeasurable. The biggest loss for me not attending is missing out on the presentation from Slave Lake Fire Chief Jamie Coutts and Calgary Deputy Chief Len MacCharles about the response to the massive wildfire that destroyed a large part of the northern Alberta town last May.

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Where else can you get together with this many chiefs? CAFC 2011 in Calgary . . . even got FFIC editor Laura King in this shot!
Photo by Rob Evans

As I write this, the L.A. Kings have just become Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in their history. I was called out to a medical co-response about halfway through the second period and made it back just in time to see the end of the third. It was great to witness Darryl Sutter and the Kings take home the Cup and I have to admit that I always seem to choke up when the captain raises the hardware for the first time. Maybe it’s just a little bit of that Canadian kid’s dream that is still alive in me. My point? Take the time to relax and do some stuff for you. You will thank yourself in the long run.

Rob Evans is the fire chief for Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, 25 kilometres west of Calgary. Evans attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1989 and studied photojournalism. In 1992, he joined RMES after taking pictures of an interface fire and making prints for the department. He has his NFPA 1001 level II certification, NFPA 472 Operations and Awareness (hazmat), NFPA 1041 level I (fire service instructor), Dalhousie University Certificate in Fire Service Leadership and Certificate in Fire Service Administration and is a registered Emergency Medical Responder with the Alberta College of Paramedics. He lives in Redwood Meadows with his wife, a firefighter/EMT with RMES, and three children.


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