August 22, 2014
Written by Rob Evans
Aug. 22, 2014, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - OK, so last week I led off Size-up by saying I was not into the many different challenges appearing on my Facebook feed. Since then, the ALS ice-bucket challenge has not just gone viral, it is now an all-out epidemic.

And now, I seem really cold toward the whole idea after last week. I will swallow my pride and say how wrong I was and it is great to see everyone coming together to support those suffering from such a horrific disease. Where does that bandwagon stop?

There have been a great number of firefighters and fire chiefs across Canada enjoying a refreshing splash this week. Ottawa’s John deHooge was drenched by some of his adoring crews. Mississauga’s new fire chief Tim Beckett was welcomed to the challenge by Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans. And Tim took the challenge from coast to coast, throwing it out to Comox, B.C.’s Chief Gord Schriener and Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., Chief Vince MacKenzie. Gord took the safe way out by lowering his core body temperature by wearing a cooling vest prior to the shower. And Vince, he had his daughter Chelsea fulfill the challenge and it looked like she may have enjoyed the task just a little too much.

But what really got me thinking about it more today, even before seeing my friends get wet, was a report coming from Kentucky about firefighters supporting the challenge while using a tower ladder to rain down on a group. The tower ladder came in contact with overhead power lines, sending four firefighters to hospital, one in critical condition. There have also been numerous “fails” showing very heavy buckets of water landing on top of people.

With the challenges being thrown out there on an hourly basis now, please keep your wits about you when doing so and make sure you are safe. I hope I am not stealing any thunder away from Dr. Rich Gasaway, but situational awareness does not just occur on the fire ground. Situational awareness should be in our heads wherever we are, during whatever we are doing. My thoughts go out to the firefighters in Campbellsville/Taylor County, KY.

So, with the serious message out of the way, keep those pictures and videos coming. It is great to see so many departments, their chiefs and members running with this worldwide challenge. The support you are showing to those with ALS is fantastic. Oh, and I believe an editor of a popular fire fighting magazine may have been challenged today. Can’t wait to see that video on my Facebook feed.

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

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