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Last Friday I was tasked by the chief of the household, my wife Jennifer, to pick up our two younger children, Nick and Michaela, at school. When I was met by Michaela’s aide – as a child with autism, Michaela has special needs – I was given the synopsis of her day and was told she had a great day baking brownies and took particular joy in handing them out and sharing with her classmates.

November 19, 2014  By Rob Evans

So now, full of sugar she had nowhere to go but to stay in the van while we all drove in so I could pick up our engine from a service appointment.

Over the weekend, while I was looking through tweets, Facebook posts and other social media as I always do, I noticed some parallels between some fire-service leaders and my daughter’s joy at the end of the week, especially the joy in sharing. Michaela’s week included cocoa and flour; the postings from fire-service leaders such as Steve Kraft, Dennis Rubin and Les Karpluk’s included knowledge and experience, but you get the picture. I am lucky enough to call both Rube and Les close, personal friends and have been able to pick their brains during a lot of time spent with them. And although I met Chief Kraft at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs mid-term meeting in Niagara Falls last year and we follow each other on Twitter and are Facebook friends, I’m embarrassed to say I have never had the pleasure of hearing him speak. Hopefully I will get that chance sooner rather than later. It would have been a pleasure to watch him deliver Leading from the Top this morning. (Editor’s note: It was – great presentation!).

Over the weekend, firefighters from three departments in Saskatchewan, specifically in the Carrot River area, were able to attend Les’s Fire Up Your Leadership seminar. Les has delivered his message to more than 250 firefighters from 40 fire departments; if you have not seen him speak I encourage you to do so if he is ever in your area. Leadership is tough for everyone to work through and you need all the tools that you can find to help you along the path.

For Rube, the path takes him to Niagara Falls today for the mid-term. It seems as if everyone has seen him speak, but do not let that stop you from going to see one of the most dynamic speakers in the fire service. Like a really good movie, you will pick out something you can use every time you are lucky enough to sit down in the same room as Rube. But it is not just speaking engagements at which you can learn from these great mentors; their blogs, magazine articles and books are great resources, not only for new chiefs but for everyone, regardless of your rank and time in the fire service. The combination of picking the kids up Friday and reading so many social-media posts reminded me that schooling should never stop. I know that and we remind our firefighters of that all the time but it was good to have a little refresher of my own.


This past summer, Redwood Meadows Emergency Services hosted Rube for a day of leadership and safety training and it was great having him in our station delivering the message. Early next year we hope to have Les visit and talk about his experiences with leadership. On Monday, Chief Kraft tweeted, “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction.” Maybe I can get Chief Kraft to change course to the west. Hope he likes brownies.

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{jcomments on}

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