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Aug. 14, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - Ten weeks ago, our newest class of recruits started training. In less than a week, those lucky enough to make it through will write their first provincial exam. At Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES), there is a quite a process to becoming a volunteer member. After weeding through the applicants, our recruitment group went on to interview almost 20 people. Of those 20, 10 individuals were offered positions to begin the training.

August 14, 2012
By Rob Evans

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Aug. 14, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Ten weeks ago, our newest class of recruits started training. In less than a week, those lucky enough to make it through will write their first provincial exam. At Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES), there is a quite a process to becoming a volunteer member. After weeding through the applicants, our recruitment group went on to interview almost 20 people. Of those 20, 10 individuals were offered positions to begin the training.

We always expect three or four recruits will drop out but we knew it wasn’t going to be good when a couple of the new hires quit before their first training day. We ended up with six throwing in the towel before this weekend’s testing. Regarding the four that have stuck around – (don’t tell them) we’re pretty happy with what we have seen from them. This past weekend, they were busy learning how to extinguish vehicle fires. Lucky for them it wasn’t 30C as it had been the past couple of weekends. Capt./EMT Gary Robertson put the recruits through their paces and they did a great job.

The recruits have a little more than nine months left in their probationary period during which they will be constantly evaluated and will have a few more tests. They will not be permitted to respond to calls unless a member of our probationary development team attends with them. I am sure they are already looking forward to the fall; that is when we are scheduled to once again begin recruiting and it won’t be long afterwards that this group of four will move up the ladder.

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The four newest recruits at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services. From left: Brandon DeCae, Adam Bronconnier, Allie Hunter and Wally Whitehead.
Photo by Rob Evans.

That wasn’t the only bit of fun around these parts last week. The entire department went out to a local swimming hole and practised throw-bag training and spinal immobilization in the water. Our water-rescue capabilities are limited to shore-based but it takes some practice to learn how to throw the bags properly. This is always a great team-building exercise and we follow the training with a big campfire, hot dogs and s’mores. Of course, I was at work and was unable to participate or get pictures.

Tuesday’s training night was a first as we, and other rural departments, were forced to change our station numbers due to growth in Calgary. Calgary has reached Engine 49 and the rural stations started at 50 (RMES). We had spent 15 years – after the city started dispatching us – building a culture at Redwood Meadows around Fiddy or the Five-Oh. As we all know, culture in the fire service is a huge part of the atmosphere and we all feel like we’ve lost a little bit of ourselves this week. We understand Calgary’s need to continue the numbering in a consistent manner and we will build on the new One-Two-Oh . . . sigh, it’s just not the same.

Life does have a way of making you look at things in perspective, though. On Friday, Aug. 12, Rod Lazenby, a community peace officer from the neighboring Municipal District of Foothills, was tragically taken from his family when a property renter from nearby Priddis allegedly waited in ambush and attacked Lazenby while he tried to action an animal complaint. Thoughts and prayers from RMES go out to Lazenby’s family, friends and the extended family of peace officers throughout the country.

Rob Evans is the chief fire officer 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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