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Jan. 28, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Pride: in our chosen field, it is not a rarely used word at all. I know I use it often when talking about our fire department. I am very proud to lead the group of professionals who make up Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES). Every day our dedicated volunteers step up and make a difference in the community. This past week, pride is a word that has been used a lot in our household to describe the feelings around some accomplishments in the Evans family.

January 28, 2013
By Rob Evans

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Jan. 28, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Pride: in our chosen field, it is not a rarely used word at all. I know I use it often when talking about our fire department. I am very proud to lead the group of professionals who make up Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES). Every day our dedicated volunteers step up and make a difference in the community. This past week, pride is a word that has been used a lot in our household to describe the feelings around some accomplishments in the Evans family.

First, our nine-year-old son Nick made his old man – if 43 can be considered old – proud with his incredible sense of timing and humour for using a Star Wars reference when he was being picked up at school. Picture my wife in the passenger seat, 15-year old Alex driving and Nick and Michaela, in the back of the van. Nick yells out from the back seat, “Punch it, Chewy!” Alex replies with the trademark sound of Han Solo’s wingman, “Chewbacca noise”. I missed it, but when Jenn was telling me about it I could not stop laughing. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with fire fighting. I just wanted to point it out to remind everyone to step back and enjoy your families and friends as much as you can. There is too much stress in our lives and it is truly amazing how your kids can turn around a bad day, and Nick has always been excellent at adding some comic relief when needed the most.

The next day I received a message from the co-chair of the Alberta Fire Chief’s Association asking if I would speak at this year’s conference in Red Deer in May. I was taken aback by the request, as he stated that after reading my Size-up blog, he felt that I would be a good person to talk at this year’s event. Wow! Talk about a humbling moment for me, but I could not answer right away. Being a volunteer, I had to check with my manager at work that night about getting the time off to travel to the conference. My answer came pretty quickly though, and I was able to confirm my availability. Now I have to prepare a presentation that will follow the theme Meeting Today’s Challenges and Beyond. I am pretty excited about this and hope I can deliver.

Deliver is something that Alex did the next day for himself and the family. I think it is safe to say that fire fighting has been in our family for three generations now. My mom’s great grandfather was a part of the Brampton, Ont., beginnings. On dad’s side, I had two uncles who were part of the Erin, Ont., fire department long ago. My Uncle Glenn was honored by the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal for more than 40 years of service. As for the three generations, dad was on the Erin department and continued with RMES until he retired with a combined 38 years of service. I have been active with RMES since 1992. This past week Alex was notified that he was accepted into the Calgary Fire Department’s cadet program. I know it is not a fire department and he will get just a taste of what we do, but I am boiling over with pride. I cannot wait to hear the excitement in his voice when he comes home after that first day with the cadet program. Alex does an awful lot for our family and community and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He often makes himself available to watch his brother and sister so that Jenn or I can respond to calls for service. This is no easy task as our daughter is a mostly non-verbal autistic six-year-old.

alex_nl_hydrant
Alex, 15, standing next to a hydrant this past September in North Harbour, N.L.

I just wish I could hear Michaela talk about her accomplishments this week. It is still difficult, as I am sure it will always be, to not hear her talk about her day. That being said, it was a little bit exciting to hear that she had made quite the accomplishment at school during fine arts day. The smallest successes by such a little girl can put a smile on our faces that is hard to wipe off.

One day Michaela may understand what pride is and how much I am proud of her and her brothers but until then, I think I will just walk around smiling and writing the odd blog about them all.

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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