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June 18, 2013
By Rob Evans

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June 18, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Last week was another eye-opening week for me when it comes to the fire service. It started out at the Calgary Multi-agency Training Centre on Monday when my dad accompanied me as I was presented my exemplary service medal. I have now been in the fire service for 21 years and I really never thought I would be where I am now when I started at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES).

June 18, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Last week was another eye-opening week for me when it comes to the fire service. It started out at the Calgary Multi-agency Training Centre on Monday when my dad accompanied me as I was presented my exemplary service medal. I have now been in the fire service for 21 years and I really never thought I would be where I am now when I started at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES).

The week was busy; taking team pictures of community soccer, t-ball and baseball teams as I do every year, responding on calls as I always do, going to work in dispatch at Calgary as I always do and then hosting Comox, B.C., Fire Chief Gord Schreiner and his #stopbad! Tour. Wait, I guess I do not always go to work at dispatch – I had a couple of people work for me so I could hang out with my guest. Thank you Krista and Trevor.

As I drove Gord from the airport to Redwood Meadows – about an hour’s drive – my eyes were opened as to how similar our ideologies and departments actually are. It continued that night, Friday, when we went for dinner with RMES Deputy Chief George Low. We sat and talked shop for more than three hours – preview of what Gord’s presentation would include over the next two days.

“Train as if your life depends on it. Because it does!” This was impressed upon the participants in class during both Saturday and Sunday. Firefighters and officers from RMES, Banff, Rocky View County, Lomond, High River, Strathmore and Kananaskis all took advantage of our invitations to come and listen to the 2010 CAFC career fire chief of the year. Schreiner believes in paying his knowledge forward, and I had to jump on the opportunity to bring him to town to deliver his message.

“We need to stop bad things from happening on the fire ground,” says Gord. And from that message, the #stopbad! Tour was born. During the one-day presentation multiple topics are discussed: call signs, accountability, command, lightweight construction, Vent/Enter/Isolate/Search (VEIS), tactics, strategies and some tricks of the. Any of these topics could be a blog subject on its own, let alone an entire training day or week.

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Comox Fire Chief Gord Schreiner, third from right, with the crew from Redwood Meadows Emergency Services last weekend during a break in the #stopbad tour presentation. Photo by Rob Evans.

The RMES members who attended the Saturday session were lucky enough to have Gord accept our invitation to have dinner at the station. Conversations led from continuing the #stopbad! talk to job opportunities to practical jokes around the hall. Again, we are very similar to Comox with the major difference being that we are land-locked here in the Rocky Mountain foothills whereas Comox has the Pacific Ocean on three sides. And in case anyone is wondering – asparagus, potatoes, Caesar salad and steak with a lobster/scallop topping; the benefit of having one of our two chefs around for the day.

Another eye opening took place for me on Sunday when visiting firefighters chirped up and asked what a TIC was. Later on, they were puzzled by the conversation when we began talking about RIT. It was a reminder that not all departments are fortunate to have the training that we enjoy, not to mention the equipment. While talking about ventilation and fan placement, the same department members commented that they did not even have a fan, something we take for granted on our apparatus.

Back in 1992 when I started, I am sure my eyes were wide open as I walked around the fire station on my first training night. Last weekend, it was nice to have them opened once again with the confirmation that we are doing things right at RMES. Was this weekend with #stopbad! a success? I think so, and I sincerely hope that our guests from other Alberta departments took home something for their departments.

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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