By Rob Evans
By Rob Evans
June 18, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - In our family the so-called Hallmark holidays are not celebrated as much as the company would like. The greeting-card industry certainly won’t be showing any increased second-quarter earnings because of the Evans clan.
Many of us have followed in the footsteps of some pretty awesome men – our fathers and, to a growing extent, sons and daughters are following their mothers onto the job now.
The extended firefighting family is huge. We refer to fellow smoke eaters as brothers and sisters and regardless of rank, we feel each other’s losses when they happen. A fire chief with whom I have become quite good friends lost his father this weekend. Without having met the dad, I just know that his son is doing him extremely proud every day. Vince, you can take solace in the fact that you have taken the baton from you dad and you’re in the process of running a great race. Your daughter will be left with quite the legacy, although I know you are nowhere close to leaving the service. I just hope I can leave a fraction of what you have for my sons when they join. Stand strong brother. I’ll see you in September.
This got me thinking about the path I have taken. My dad started fighting fires in Erin, Ont., when he was just 16 years old, in the early sixties. Timew were much different – a teen could join and start working the trucks right away. He rose through the ranks and eventually became the fire chief of the small town just west of Guelph. I remember being in the car and racing to the fire station or to fire scenes with him, only to be told, very abruptly, to wait in the car once we had arrived.
I learned a lot sitting and watching from the car. Mostly, I learned that I loved everything about the job that I was witnessing. The parts of the job that none of us like? Well, dad did a great job shielding me from that. I learned quite quickly about those parts after I joined Redwood Meadows Emergency Services in 1992. As far as being around the fire station it was very apparent that I had a number of “fathers” around the hall. My uncle Glenn, honored by the Office of the Fire Marshal for more than 40 years of service, was a big influence. Others included John MacDougall, Terry Osborne, Bob Bates, Doug Lucas and Brian Ritchie. Each member of the department looked out for everyone’s kids.
There are not too many kids around our station here in the west. There are just five of us who have children under 15. Rest assured, those kids have the same advantages of multiple “parents” as we did growing up. Under the emergency contact lists for our kids school, Jenn and I always put down the grandparents and “any Redwood Meadows Emergency Services firefighter with valid ID.”
My 15-year-old son has another three years before he will be allowed to enter our recruiting process but he already has a sense of the extended family. He is a very BIG brother to many of the younger kids around the hall. He will be the first to follow in our footsteps and I would trade years and years of cardboard cards to see that happen and can’t wait for the day . . . May 16, 2015.
Rob Evans is the fire chief for Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, 25 kilometres west of Calgary. Evans studied photo-journalism at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and in 1992 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, Jennifer, a firefighter/EMT with RMES, and three children.