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July 6, 2012
By Rob Evans

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July 6, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - What’s in a name? The fire service is full of guys and gals with some well-deserved nicknames, both good and bad. In my case, the dire need for a hair cut was apparently the start of a nickname that still sticks with me.

July 6, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – What’s in a name? The fire service is full of guys and gals with some well-deserved nicknames, both good and bad. In my case, the dire need for a hair cut was apparently the start of a nickname that still sticks with me.

We had been out training, learning all you ever wanted to know about forwards hose lays. I was in the officer’s seat of the pumper leaving the hydrant when the RCMP drove up. Training was over for the night, and after going to fuel up the truck, we returned to the fire hall. As I was getting out of the truck, I could hear some of the guys barking at me. It seems that as the officer got out of the cruiser down at the hydrant, he asked someone when we had gotten a dog. You see, I had a pretty good mess of hair that was all over the place because of helmet head. When I got back to the hall I had been given the nickname Woof, and it has stuck for all of these years. Although, when I became deputy chief, it became interchangeable with Deputy Dog.

I think I would rather have a name for having messy hair than one for not knowing how to use the dishwasher though. Bubbles found out that normal dish soap isn’t supposed to be used in the dishwasher, but the floors were nice and clean. This same firefighter shares a house with another one of our members. When they’re together, Bert and Ernie are a lot of fun. Tool Time actually named his private handyman company after his moniker. Danger Dan wasn’t really, but the pylons he took out during driver training would say otherwise. Lars was tagged with that title after he joined because there where already two other Chads on the department. Baby Chad is the smallest of all the Chads. TK . . . his initials. T-Rem . . . see Bubbles. Pumba, from the Lion King, and I’m sure he smelled better . . . the cartoon character I mean. Poof, because of how her hair looked after it grew back from shaving it for kids’ cancer. Do you have a good one? Please post it in a comment.

The names are not limited to the personnel of the department. Our trucks are being tagged now. During the build of our first tanker by the members of the department, Pumba and another firefighter came up with Brutus as the name for the truck. It was an old Ford C chassis and the name just seemed to fit. Last year when we replaced the truck with a new Peterbilt, Brutus II was the natural. The upcoming new rescue may, or may not, have a name on the side of it for the first time. Even the station isn’t immune. It’s called the Magnusson Memorial Fire Station after one of our founding members.

Turns out there’s a lot to a name. Personnel, apparatus and even buildings are given names for a number of reasons. Initially, firefighters may be put off by the names given to them but in the end it is all for the right reasons. We nickname the people and things we care about.

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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