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January 29, 2013
By Rob Evans

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Jan. 29, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – At about the time my last blog was being posted on Monday, I was hearing the very sad news of six-year-old Jayden Phaneuf’s passing from cancer. Late last year it was learned that Jayden dreamed of one day becoming a firefighter. He became an honorary member of the Irricana fire department (Station 108) in December, just before Christmas, after more than a dozen fire departments, police agencies, Alberta Health Services and 60-plus emergency responders helped out.

Jan. 29, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – At about the time my last blog was being posted on Monday, I was hearing the very sad news of six-year-old Jayden Phaneuf’s passing from cancer. Late last year it was learned that Jayden dreamed of one day becoming a firefighter. He became an honorary member of the Irricana fire department (Station 108) in December, just before Christmas, after more than a dozen fire departments, police agencies, Alberta Health Services and 60-plus emergency responders helped out.

Jayden was unable to come out and see all of the fire trucks that day. Cancer had ravaged his little body and he was too weak to go out for lunch and spend the day with his new fire family. So, like any firefighters would, we took the party to him. Fire truck after fire truck paraded by his bedroom window that cold December day and his smile through the pain warmed us all. I was lucky enough to be in Jayden’s room with his family and a group of special firefighters and their families from Irricana as the parade went by his house. Surrounded by presents, including a traditional fire helmet signed by the crew at Station 108, Jayden watched intently as each truck went by. One by one, fire trucks, police cars and ambulances made their way through the cul-de-sac past the house. We left the family to eat a huge Christmas dinner that had been prepared and brought to the house for them that night, time to take in all that had happened in the privacy of their home.

On Monday, Jayden died, surrounded by his immediate family. Their
adopted family had just helped move them into a new home just a week
ago. There are a lot of firefighters in this part of southern Alberta
with very heavy hearts today. I fought back tears after being told while
dispatching Alberta Health Services from Calgary’s Public Safety
Communications building, my full-time job. Like all of us, I deal with
death far more often than I would like to and it is always hard when a
child is involved. But this was not just any kid; Jayden was part of our
extended firefighting family.

We will give Jayden’s mom, dad and immediate family their privacy and not bother them but be assured, when the time is right, our newest firefighter will be given a hero’s send off. We are not the heroes. A six-year-old who fought the fight of his life and answered his last alarm is the hero.

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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