By Rob Evans
Sept. 20, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - I have said it before: we all think we live in the best town in the country. Wherever you hang your hat, you should be proud to call it the best place in Canada. In the last couple of weeks, I was reminded how much I miss my childhood home of Erin, Ont., when I visited during a business trip for the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.
By Rob Evans
Sept. 20, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – I have said it before: we all think we live in the best town in the country. Wherever you hang your hat, you should be proud to call it the best place in Canada. In the last couple of weeks, I was reminded how much I miss my childhood home of Erin, Ont., when I visited during a business trip for the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. I stood in the hallway of the fire station looking at pictures of my dad and uncles, remembering how proud they were of their department and town. Now that I have finished my rookie year as chief of Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES), I think I am truly starting to understand how they felt about their teams and communities.
This past weekend was the kickoff to our Firefighters 1st calendar sales with the Heroes in the Sky event. For the past three years, we have sent two victims – I mean firefighters – to the roof of a local grocery store for 30 hours. At noon on Saturday, the suckers – oops, firefighters – set up camp on the roof and did not come down until Sunday at 6 p.m.
While our brave little campers, Lt./EMR Russ Jenkins and firefighter/EMR Chad Gibson, were up on the roof, other RMES members and volunteers from the community were busy at street level with a barbeque, face painting, petting zoo, morning yoga, beer gardens and lots of music. CTV and Global stations from Calgary came out Saturday and gave the event lots of airtime. Capt./EMT Gary Robertson even got to sit in on the Global morning show, and was interviewed about the event last Friday, before the fun began. It did not take long for us to realize that this was going to be our best Heroes in the Sky ever. By late afternoon on Saturday, all of the barbeque supplies meant for the entire weekend had been used. Luckily, another business in town stepped up with some pulled pork and with one of our resident chefs on duty, the barbeque was back on. People partied in the parking lot of the mall and ended the night enjoying the local cover band, Scuzzy & the Woodticks. The music that was lined up by a local company, Ad Maki, was fantastic, with up-and-coming country artists Tanya Ryan and Lauren Mayell both performing on Saturday, fresh from the Canadian Country Music Awards show that had just been held in Edmonton.
Running out of barbeque supplies did not mean that we sat back come Sunday. A couple of members skipped the pancake breakfast and went shopping for burgers and hot dogs, arriving back just in time to start the lunch menu. The fun continued throughout Sunday and in the end, at 6 p.m. when our firefighters came off of the roof, we had raised more than $20,000!
The business owners and residents who got this ball rolling did so because they wanted to say thank you to RMES. The members of RMES want to voice that back to them – all 80 strong – who came out and made the weekend as successful as it was, especially when we had to bolt to five different calls over the two days, including a motorcycle collision with a fatality. People really got to witness what it means to be a responder, the tones drop and we go – no matter what is going on. I was very proud of our team while the crowds of people applauded each time the trucks responded out of the parking lot.
While growing up and watching my dad and uncles respond to calls and participate in community events, I may not have understood the look of pride on their faces. I do now.
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