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December 6, 2012
By Rob Evans

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Dec. 6, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Not sure what that means around your fire stations, but it’s a roller-coaster ride for all of us at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES). Days of nothing give way to days filled with call-outs, year-end paperwork and just trying to get stuff done in this budget year.

Dec. 6, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Not sure what that means around your fire stations, but it’s a
roller-coaster ride for all of us at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services
(RMES). Days of nothing give way to days filled with call-outs, year-end
paperwork and just trying to get stuff done in this budget year.

The days filled with nothing have been a nice break. This year has been a
record busy year for RMES and the staff. The department, including me,
is 100 per cent volunteer. And this year, more than 16,000 hours have
been logged serving the community.

I saw a recent tweet that was commenting negatively on a popular command
system. It commented that we don’t provide customer service as fire
departments. Citizens are our bosses and pay our salaries; they’re not
customers that we serve. I’m not sure about the history behind the
tweet, but it seemed a little bit harsh. We do serve the citizens of the
communities in which we respond. If we choose to treat people like
customers that we would be happy to serve again, where is the harm? It
is not drinking the kool-aid; it is simply choosing a way to operate our
fire departments. Be nice! Again, where’s the harm in that? It’s
difficult to debate a tweet when you only have 140 characters to respond
but then again, without knowing the history of such a post, where would
I have started? Lots of questions in the last couple of sentences, I
know. It would be nice to see a civil debate in the comments on this
blog.

I’m writing this just after RMES responded to call No. 393 for the year.
When I first joined our department in 1992, we responded to 65 calls
for service. Now our volunteers are responding to more than one call a
day. Back in July, the average rose to over two calls a day for the
entire month. I’m thankful for a great team of firefighters in our
department, and the community, whether they feel we are servicing them,
or working for them, should be grateful as well. And I believe they are.
Once again in 2012, it was proven time and time again how thoughtful
our residents are and just how much they support us. I hope to continue
this relationship in the coming years.

A relationship I wish would go away is the one I have with the computer
and reports that need to be finished. Year-end paperwork and filing is
almost done, and really, doesn’t deserve more than these two sentences.

Like all chiefs, during the last month I have been busy working with my
team on the operating and capital budgets for 2013. After getting our
new rescue in October, which was our fourth new truck delivery since
2009, we are taking a breather this coming year. Not that we’re sitting
down for too long, however. Planning will begin shortly for a
much-needed expansion to our fire station in 2014. We have great trucks
and equipment for the firefighters but what is really needed next is
space for them to enjoy their time around the hall. A training room,
full-sized kitchen and sleeping quarters is hopefully in 120 Station’s
future. The plans should be in full swing by the time our latest hires
are ready to hit the streets.

Rounding out the year, our recruiters have just put a new group of
hopefuls through our entry testing. In January, we will be offering
positions to about six candidates to bring our staffing back up to 40
firefighters. The next year will be exciting for them as they learn the
basics and gradually start responding to calls with our team. We all
wish them the best of luck and hope they stick around for a long time
because that roller-coaster ride doesn’t just come at this time of year.
It lasts the entire year and what fun is it when someone leaves before
the ride is over?

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. Follow him on Twitter at @redwoodwoof


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