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March 12, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – After one more night shift it will officially be my first week of holidays for 2013. But they won’t be days off to sit back and relax. After dealing with a pumper that needs to have the packing replaced and a couple of other Redwood Meadows Emergency Services things, I am going to have to start packing.

March 12, 2013
By Rob Evans

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March 12, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – After one more night shift it will officially be my first week of holidays for 2013. But they won’t be days off to sit back and relax. After dealing with a pumper that needs to have the packing replaced and a couple of other Redwood Meadows Emergency Services things, I am going to have to start packing.

Next week, I am off to Ottawa with fire chiefs from across Canada for the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs government relations week (GRW). It is not a full week, just Monday through Wednesday, but there is a week’s worth of work crammed into all the meetings and gatherings with members of Parliament, their staffers, government agencies and amongst ourselves.

For me, it is one of the few times that I get to wear my dress uniform – and I get to wear it a lot over those three days. I do not mind though; I enjoy walking through the streets of Ottawa, going to those meetings and in and around the government buildings, proudly representing my department. However, we are not just representing our communities. We represent our proud profession on a provincial and federal level, as well. Speaking as one voice for the Canadian fire service, we take a unified message to our representatives and they listen. The CAFC is a trusted advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office and, as such, our word can be heard loud and clear.

We have been successful in bringing tax credits to Canada’s volunteer firefighters. We fought hard for an allotment of bandwidth in the 2012 frequency spectrum auction and we talked to a lot of people about fire safety on First Nations land. Delegations also talked to a number of departments, including Transport Canada, Health Canada, the National Research Council, Industry Canada and the research and development branch of the Department of National Defence. As you can imagine, a number of topics were discussed while meeting with such a diverse selection of government agencies. They included transportation of dangerous goods, medical marijuana, building and fire codes, fire statistics, and many other matters critical to the fire and life safety of all Canadians.

Our time in Ottawa is also great for continued networking and making new contacts within government and our own fire-service family. We spend a great amount of time together in meetings with other chiefs and a few nights together socially, as well. During GRW for the past two years, we have ended the week with a reception in the Speaker’s lounge, located immediately behind the House of Commons inside the Centre Block. What a great time to meet people that represent everyone from coast to coast. Close to 100 MPs and senators attended the reception last year.

I encourage all fire chiefs to attend this event at least once. But, I have to warn you: it does have addictive properties. Once you have been involved in work on Parliament Hill, you’re hooked.

Talk to you all next week from the Hill.

Did I mention this is my vacation?

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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