Fire Fighting in Canada

Features Blogs Size-up
Size-up

July 25, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Well, the kids have been out of school for about three weeks now and everybody is deeply entrenched in summer. For us at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES), July is a whirlwind of tours, camps, pancake breakfasts, parades and rodeos.

July 25, 2012
By Rob Evans

Topics

July 25, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Well, the kids have been out of school for about three weeks now and everybody is deeply entrenched in summer. For us at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES), July is a whirlwind of tours, camps, pancake breakfasts, parades and rodeos.

What is historically the busiest week for our department started on Sunday, and it did so with a bang! Shortly after 1 p.m., the tones went off for a reported house fire. We were turned out with Rocky View Fire Services (RVFS) from two different stations. Crews from another neighboring department, Cochrane, were also requested. Our station is tucked away in the trees so we had to travel for about four kilometres before we were able to have a clear view to the north of us. When we did have an unobstructed view of our destination, it was clear we would have a busy afternoon. Heavy, thick, black smoke and flames could be seen in the distance and we were still about eight kilometres away from the scene. A convoy of fire apparatuses was now headed north on Highway 22 from Highway 8 with our engine and tender, as well as an engine and tender from RVFS’ Elbow Valley Station.

By this time, Rocky View’s apparatus, from its Springbank station, had arrived and reported three fully involved structures. Cochrane arrived with an engine and tender and began assisting on the north side of the large scene and the RMES and Elbow Valley crews set up on the south side and began protecting exposures. Two more buildings were severely threatened by the raging fire and strong Alberta winds. With excellent work by all involved these two exposures suffered little damage and were saved.

But this wasn’t the end of our eventful day. During the response to the fire, our second engine was dispatched for a fire alarm at a residence. We already had six members on the way to the fire and no others firefighters were reporting that they were on the way to the station. I had to request that dispatch send a crew from a different station to this call.

Advertisment

Crews from the house fire were finally released just less than four hours after being called to the scene. Almost immediately after telling dispatch that they were back in quarters, a call for a medical co-response came across the pagers. A crew responded out to Kananaskis Country to assist with a patient suffering from anaphylaxis who was located in a back-country area of the mountains. About 10 minutes into this response (it is easily a 20-minute response to the staging location), we were again toned out for a medical co-response even deeper into Kananaskis. This time it was for a fall and the patient was on the move with the caller. Our rescue ended up meeting them in nearby Bragg Creek, where they were treated by our EMTs.

Once everyone returned to the station and all of the trucks had been placed back in service the guys were able to finally sit down and start in on the pizza. I was at work at dispatch so I don’t know how many bites they got in before the tones went off again.

This time, a motor vehicle collision was being reported along the Trans-Canada Highway, west of Calgary. Our crews, EMS and the RCMP were unable to find anything. I think the crews were happy about that.

Again, this is just the start of one of our busiest weeks of the year. Competitors for the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Annual Rodeo and Pow Wow started rolling into the rodeo grounds across from Redwood Meadows on Tuesday. We can expect upwards of 5,000 people to populate the grounds for the next five days. As far as calls for service, anywhere from five to 45 calls have occurred during this week in past years.

We will have two crews of five on from Friday to Sunday, the days of the competitions. All volunteers are ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Last year, we ended July with 59 calls. As of this writing, we have responded to 37 calls this month and the weather forecast this week is for sun and highs in the upper 20s.

bcdays_ffic
Trevor Remington (a.k.a., Bubbles – see Rob's nickname blog) and Chad Gibson (a.k.a., Baby Chad) serve up pancakes during the 20th annual firefighters' breakfast during the Bragg Creek Days festival on July 14.

canadaday_ffic
Tyler Paksi provides the entertainment
during the Canada Day celebrations in Redwood Meadows, Alta. A foam
party kept the kids busy for about an hour; it wasn't firefighting foam,
just some soap that was run through our equipment.

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.


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*