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February 20, 2013
By Rob Evans

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Feb. 20, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Sunday was a busy day for the crews at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, but not as you would expect. This Family Day weekend, we carried on with a tradition that started a few years ago with a big brunch for the families of our members. We also started what we hope will become a new annual event: a hockey game against the local community team, and later taking to the ice against the kids.

Feb. 20, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Sunday was a busy day for the crews at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, but not as you would expect. This Family Day weekend, we carried on with a tradition that started a few years ago with a big brunch for the families of our members. We also started what we hope will become a new annual event: a hockey game against the local community team, and later taking to the ice against the kids.

I had to work at Public Safety Communications in Calgary – the paying job – on Saturday night so I was not able to show up for the brunch while everyone was there. Instead, I caught a couple of hours of sleep. By all accounts from the team, the get-together was a huge success and we realized that there are a lot more kids in our fire-department family now as the latest group of recruits has brought many young ones. The year-end Christmas party this year should be a fun time.

The crew had started to clean up when I arrived and I was able to grab a plate of food before it was all packed up. But after the clean up, there was very little time before some of the members had to lace up their skates and take to the ice. The department had challenged the community hockey team to a friendly game on the outdoor rink. Up until Friday, we thought we were going to be hard-pressed to dress more than one line, but there ended up being about 10 firefighters, friends and family members who made up the fire department team – including our own Bieber, who strapped on the goalie pads. OK, it is not the Justin Bieber, but that is the nickname that Brandon has picked up. Our team actually had a few great players, but we took it easy on the residents and let them beat us. Maybe next year we will open it up.

After being shown a lesson from the residents – ahem, I mean letting them beat us – we had some ice time with the kids who had shown up to play with the firefighters. The kids and firefighters had a great time and spent more than on hour on the ice playing keep-away and teaching the kids some skills. What a great way to spend a Family Day weekend – with friends, family and the community. The brunch and hockey game were such a great release for the RMES team and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It is so important to include your members’ families and thank them for sharing their spouses, moms or dads with your department. Without the family support, many of our firefighters may not continue to participate. Family has to come first in the life/work balance. That is our belief and always will be.

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A firefighter from the Redwood Meadows Emergency Services in Alberta helps a skater with her laces. The department hosted a brunch and free skate the families of its members during the Family Day weekend.

For our next outing, I’m thinking a baseball game on Canada Day, maybe have a BBQ following that and then ending the day with our annual town fireworks. It could make for a long day, but it would be a blast – pun intended.

We also take the time this week to congratulate two of our firefighters and wish them well on their new journey a few hours north on Highway 2. Matt Badmington and Aaron Pytka will be starting a new chapter in their lives with Edmonton’s Fire Rescue Services. Our loss here at RMES will certainly be Chief Ken Block’s gain for his team in Alberta’s capital. Best of luck from all of us, and don’t forget to stop in once and a while.

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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