By Rob Evans
Aug. 14, 2014, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - My Facebook feed has been busy lately with a lot of “gratitude” challenges from friends, family and colleagues. I’m not much for replying to that type of thing, or cold-water challenges or whatever that daily challenge may be, except for the challenges of being a volunteer fire chief and busy father and husband.
By Rob Evans
Aug. 14, 2014, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – My Facebook feed has been busy lately with a lot of “gratitude” challenges from friends, family and colleagues. I’m not much for replying to that type of thing, or cold-water challenges or whatever that daily challenge may be, except for the challenges of being a volunteer fire chief and busy father and husband.
And what a challenge that has been over the past few months. Our department continues to strive to be one of the best in the country, if not, North America. Leading our fine group at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) does not take an awful lot of work as our members are pretty awesome. But there is a lot of stuff that needs to get done just like in your departments, I’m sure. Recently, at an officers’ meeting, I did have to ask that we finish up some projects before we begin to take on more.
Our big project currently is the development of a best-practices manual for our department. Starting with risk assessments for the response area, we developed a new training schedule based on the risks we take and the competencies that firefighters need to maintain. Now, work on lesson plans for all of the subjects is underway and it is not a small undertaking. Once again, the team is stepping forward and helping out.
Summer is always busy and helping out is what the members of RMES do in this community. It starts with the end of school as our firefighters BBQ hot dogs for the kids during their year-end walkathon. Then, in mid-July, our firefighters association runs the annual pancake breakfast that is part of Bragg Creek Days and a fundraising anchor. This is the 23rd year that we have flipped flapjacks for the community and it was our biggest yet – well over $3,000 was raised. Nestled before and after Bragg Creek Days, the summer fire camps are run by our department and we also help the local camps with their “water weeks”; these events keep our dedicated crews busy on weekdays. All the while, we are responding to the many calls, including two mutual-aid calls for house fires this past week.
Pushing 250 calls for the year so far, RMES – an all-volunteer station – will be around the 400-call mark by the end of the year.
There have been meetings with major sponsors and our firefighters to help pay for a new training centre; that initiative is being led by association president Capt. Gary Robertson and Lt. Russ Jenkins. These firefighters and the other association members have been doing a great job over the years and continue to bring in major corporate support, including a $60,000 donation over three years from Shell Canada. Deputy Chief George Low continues to work tirelessly to make sure our department is trained like no other. Capt. Mike Norman has somewhere found time to work on a new personnel policy for RMES. Capt. Jennifer Evans, who responds to almost 70 per cent of our calls, works hard on our medical training. Communications officer Jason Low is working on our radios, communications, and the statistics that he keeps. WOW!
I could go on about all members of RMES and how they contribute and hope you have a department full of members you can talk about, too. Don’t forget about the resources you have under those fire-station roofs. Don’t try to do it all – you will not be able to and you will fail. Besides, there is still a lot of summer left. You should put your feet up before it’s over. Wouldn’t that be gratifying?
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 captain/EMT with RMES, and three children. Follow him on Twitter at @redwoodwoof