Thursday, March 31, 2011

campaign acrobats

The election campaign is less than a week old, and I already want a bottle of Pepto Bismol. I'm not complaining . . . no one should complain about the privilege to vote (even though it's the fourth time in seven years). And yes, I fully understand that those poor North Koreans and Cubans would give their right arms to have a free vote just once, and the Libyans are already giving their right arms. I just wish we could have an election without the lousy circus acrobatics. Here's what I've learned from the campaign so far:

  • Harper is a dictator that hates democracy

  • Ignatieff plans to make a reckless coalition

  • Layton could potentially be a reckless coalition member

  • Duceppe might be reckless coalition member, but he really wants to sever Canada in two

  • Elizabeth May doesn't exist

Of course I've heard nuggets of policy about tax cuts for small business, green energy, grants for college students, and caps on credit card interest rates, but who cares about superficial stuff when we can watch a political jousting match, with candidates skewering and roasting their opponents like souvlaki over a barbcue?

I refuse to endorse any of the five parties, partly because this isn't a political blog (honest), and partly because I'm a dough-brained bush boy from the peripheral edge of the universe that barely has enough political savvy to vote.

I do know that Mr. Rafferty is a down-to-earth, get-er-done, friend of volunteer firefighters. I also know that Brian Jean ignored my email about supporting Rafferty's motion for volunteer firefighters. The Northern Alberta MP may have better things to do than chat with a two-bit Ontario fire chief, but a simple, "Shut up and leave me alone," from one of his aides would have been better than complete silence.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs wants us to vote Conservative to ensure that the volunteer firefighter tax credit makes it into the budget. The president of the New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs thinks the tax credit will make it into the budget regardless of who gains the most votes. I take the fatalistic view that it's more complex than simply Conservatives or Liberals in power, and that both parties will act according their best interests . . . which may or may not be our best interests. I do sincerely hope that some party will put my inner cynic to rest. It's hard work always expecting your government to let you down.

Even if the tax credit survives, they'd better not say, "You got what you wanted. Now shut up and let us get on with important stuff." The volunteer fire service must become part of the "important stuff" in every budget.

A $3000 tax credit is a good start, but it won't stop the hemorrhaging of personnel from our ranks, especially in small communities. Think about it. $450 - or even $700 - off a tax bill is a nice piece of money, and will be much appreciated by volunteers that put in the required 200 hours. However, if an employer only valued your time at $2.25 - $3.50 per hour, would you stand in line for the job? I dare say that if our politicians would work for that price, we'd see the Canadian deficit vanish faster than wet snow in June.

Still not complaining, by the way. Many volunteers do it for nothing, and this will be a well-deserved break for them.

If it survives.

[Here's where I grab my inner cynic by the throat, hurl him to the floor, and try to throttle the life out of him once and for all. Only 32 more blogging days until the election . . .]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Circus

Now that the drama is over, and we are doomed to go to the polls like lemmings running off a cliff, we should look at the bright side of things. There is indeed a bright side, at least for a blogger like me. Think of it. For the next six weeks, our leaders will refrain from doing anything useful while they knock their opponents around like punching bags, and act like spoiled siblings at the dinner table. An election campaign is not unlike a three ring circus, with the contestants as the clowns. We've all been awarded front seat tickets, and there should be plenty of blogger fodder for all.

[Side note: Ever wonder why combatants in a political debate often exhibit behaviour that would not be tolerated in a kindergarten class? When I'm King of the World, I'll make a rule that the candidate who successfully keeps his or her mouth shut the longest is the automatic and undisputed winner.]

I don't think of myself as a politically minded person, but a quick search of my blog shows that I have a lot to say about politicians. Here is an October entry in which I compare politics to a game, and one from July in which I compare it to alcoholism. While my point of view isn't exactly political science, I maintain that it contains at least a measure of truth.

One down side of the election is that it jeopardizes the volunteer firefighter tax credit. Whether the government really wanted to help volunteer firefighters, or whether they just wanted to con us into voting for them, one thing is certain: they at least paid us some attention. Congratulations to the CAFC for successfully shining the spotlight on volunteer firefighters. We can at least hope that the new government will see fit to keep the tax credit in the budget.

Laura King on the Firefighting in Canada blog makes a good point that this is perhaps the first time the federal government has given anything to volunteer fire services. I still have to wonder why it took so long, especially since the idea has had all-party support for some time. It isn't like it's a huge amount of money in federal budget terms. It could be that they were afraid of becoming the proverbial frog that allows itself to be boiled. You know the story that if you turn up the heat slowly enough, the frog won't know it's being cooked. I fear that our frog may jump out of the pot after the election, but time will tell.

Incidentally, Laura also implies that I'm a political cynic. Hmm. I wonder where that idea came from.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Of politicians, elections, and other sad topics

Perhaps I should try viewing the world from a politician's perspective.

Ugh. That's scary. I don't know if I can coerce my brain to travel down that twisted, dangerous path, but they say don't judge another until you've walked a mile in his or her shoes.

No, this doesn't mean I'm running for public office (I could hardly get anyone to vote on my blogger opinion poll), but all this talk about a possible spring election gets me wondering what the heck those guys and gals on Parliament hill are really thinking. Allow me to explain.

The new budget tabled by the Conservatives provides the long-awaited $3000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters [btw, thanks very much to those of you that supported it]. I had several conflicting reactions to the news.

First was a question: what persuaded them to finally put it in the budget? The Canadian Volunteer Fire Service Association initiated the idea nearly 10 years ago. The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs pushed hard for it in the past 12 months. Did the politicians finally listen to reason, or was there another motivator?

Which led to skepticism: perhaps they really don't care about volunteer firefighters, but have some nefarious motive for including the tax credit. Perhaps they suspected that the opposition parties planned to bring down the government no matter what kind of budget they tabled, so they inserted the tax credit - along with numerous other perks - to sweet talk us into being nice to them on election day.

Which led to more skepticism: perhaps the Conservatives purposely created a budget that wouldn't pass because they knew they were going down anyway. Perhaps the plan was to make the opposition look like the bad guys for forcing them to revise the budget and eliminate all those tax breaks and funding promises that we Canadians so dearly love.

Of course there is always the possibility that none of this is true, and that the democratic process actually worked. Perhaps the politicians actually listened to the CAFC. Perhaps they fully intended to give volunteer firefighters a tax break all along.

Or maybe the real truth is a contorted combination of all the above.

On second thought, I don't want to walk a mile in a politician's shoes. It's much more fun to write random thoughts about what they might be thinking. Speaking of writing, you can read my random thoughts from the last election here.

If we do go to the polls, it will be the end of M-635. Whatever the politicians are thinking, I suspect that it doesn't include much about Mr. Rafferty's motion. There's always next time.

On a somber note, tomorrow is the funeral for the two firefighters that died in Listowel last week.

On another somber note, the Japan tsunami disaster is far from over. There isn't much to say about it except that I believe the Japanese will eventually rebound like they have from the many disasters they've suffered. But, like Haiti and Southeast Asia, the recovery will continue long, long after the rest of the world loses interest.

During my sojourn in Japan, I recall a recurring discussion about whether or not nuclear power was a smart method for generating electricity in that earthquake prone country. Opinions ranged widely, but could be corralled into three main categories:
  1. Yeah, it's a great method.
  2. No, it's a lousy method.
  3. Whether it's good or bad, we don't have many other options. This is perhaps the clincher that drives the nuclear power program.

That was over 20 years ago, and the issues haven't changed. Now that Japan's nuclear program is enduring it's biggest challenge ever, I'm sure there will be more discussion on the topic. I don't claim to know any more about Japanese thinking than that of our enigmatic politicians, but I suspect that once the dust settles, they will figure out a way to make atomic energy safer.

Firefighter LODD's and disaster in Japan make politics, elections, and tax credits look like tiny specs of dust in a universe of sadness. Such is our strange world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Two volunteer firefighters lost their lives yesterday in Listowel, Ontario in what is reported to have been a roof collapse during suppression operations in a dollar store. You can read about it here.

Now is not the time to play armchair quarterback and talk about all the things that might have gone wrong. There isn't enough information and it isn't fair to the families and colleagues of the fallen firefighters. I can only hope that those investigating the tragedy will do so without prejudice. We need to learn from these disasters, and if training or equipment or staffing had any impact on the outcome, we need to bring those issues to our politicians' doors. It isn't enough for them to talk about fallen heroes for thirty seconds, then waltz on their merry way.

By the way, MP Rafferty is still promoting his motion in support of volunteer firefighters. If you haven't written your MP yet to lend your support, there is no time like the present.

Everyone has a unique perspective. I think of myself as a big picture person, but at the same time, my view is firmly fastened to real events that happen on the ground. That brings ideological conflict with people higher up in the political food chain who have their own big picture perspectives without the benefit of a ground view. They see budgets and deficits and public opinion and multitudes asking for money. I see ancient trucks in front line service . . . and volunteers who don't have time to train . . . and understaffed fire departments expected to work miracles with crumbs dribbled from provincial and federal coffers.

This "from the ground" perspective affects the way I view world events as well. When I watched this video from Japan, my attention was drawn to the Japanese volunteer firefighters doing what all volunteers do - helping as much as they could with what they had - and I felt for all the first responders that are most assuredly overwhelmed right now. These folks are not machines. They're humans that are going to need a lot of help for a long time after the disaster is over.

Some leaders see the world as a gargantuan chessboard. Tsunamis and earthquakes and Gadhafi and rebels and Sendai and oil prices are all pieces that can be maneuvered and placed in strategic manner to accomplish a goal . . . with little regard for the humanity that resides in each individual. We need these big picture players that stay focused amidst the cries of children or the pleas of the oppressed. We also need them to listen to the thousands of first responders on the ground that have intimate knowledge of the human side of the game.

We interrupt this irregularly scheduled and highly opinionated diatribe to show you a not-so-new photograph of me in my Japanese volunteer firefighter regalia, circa 1985.

I didn't fight any fires or respond to any disasters during my four years in Japan, but I did attend a little training. Incidentally, the village in which I lived had an interesting take on volunteerism. If you lived in Subundo and could hold a hose line, you were automatically a volunteer firefighter. Even a clueless gaijin like me.

If you want to help the Japanese first responders, this Facebook page will donate ten cents to the Japanese fire service for every new "like" before March 24th. It will take 50,000 new likes to reach their target of $5000, so pass the word.

You can make a direct donation to the Japan Firefighters Association here, and you can donate to the aid agency of your choice here.

The world looks like a pretty dark place right now. I hope the ones trying to cast some light in the darkness will get the help they need.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Some people see a big mess and say, "Wow, what a big mess." Firefighters see the same thing, but they say, "I can fix that." At least that's what we want to say. Firefighters are fixers.

Here's the problem though. Some messes are just too big. They are unfixable. We can't raise the dead, or recreate destroyed property. Sometimes all we can do is pick up the pieces and move on.

I can hardly bear to look at the destruction in Japan, because I know there is nothing I can do to fix it. Sure I'll send some money, and encouraging words to friends in the middle of the chaos, but I'm not kidding myself about being able to fix anything. One thing for sure though, the Japanese fire service is among those that are front and centre, and doing what they can to help. And probably putting themselves in harm's way to do it.

The news is full of images and video coverage, perhaps more than any other disaster in history, so there is no need to include more here, but I will give you a link to Chad Sartison's Firefighters 1st Facebook page. Sometimes a picture says it all.

Here's hoping and praying that the folks in Japan will be able to pick up the pieces and move on.
It's hard to be lighthearted and funny when a Japanese city of one million lies in ruins from a tsunami, and people sling bombs back and forth in Libya. If I let disasters rule my blog though, I would always be writing doom and gloom because tsunamis are a terrible fact of life, and people aren't going to stop slinging bombs at each other any time soon. So life goes on, and all I can do is hope that someone is smart enough to deal with these tragedies.

The disaster in Japan captured my attention because I have a friend that lives in Sendai with his family. I emailed a mutual friend on the other side of the island, and she was unable to contact him because all services had been disrupted by the quake. Google person finder had no information on his whereabouts as of this morning. Only messages from friends and family asking him to contact them. Not good.

About two o'clock this afternoon I received word that he and his family have been located. They are staying in a community centre because their home was damaged, but they are all safe. He had been near the beach fifteen minutes before the quake, but was out of the danger area when the tsunami struck. Thousands of others were not so fortunate, and I'm sure the toll will rise.

If you want to help with donations, here is a website that links to various aid organizations. The Japanese are resilient, resourceful, and as well prepared as any nation I know of, but some forces of nature are just unstoppable.

On the home front, the CAFC's Government Relations Week starts on the 21st, and the CAFC will be promoting the $3000 volunteer firefighter tax credit, among other things. If you haven't done your part and taken two minutes to click your support, there's no time like the present.

I doubt that M-635, the parliamentary motion in support of volunteer firefighters, will be on the CAFC promotions agenda, but you never know. The firefighting world has been ominously silent on this topic, and as far as I can tell, has not put much official support behind it. My attempts to spread the word like a wildfire in a snowless spring have been about as effective as a wet match on seaweed. MP Rafferty did another press release on the motion last Friday, but the media did not pick up on it. MP Brian Jean did not respond to my email asking for his support of the motion. He is perhaps more concerned about a possible spring election than throwing support behind a motion tabled by an opposing party.

The worst part is being ignored. If MP Jean, or the OAFC, or the CAFC would come out and say they think M-635 is a lousy idea, I would at least be able to make fun of them for being so daft. But I don't know if they think it's a lousy idea. For all I know, they don't think about it at all.

Interestingly enough, the IAFF did take notice. In my March 1 post, I was doubtful that their letter to MP Rafferty asking for similar federal support was good news for the volunteer effort. The IAFF represents career firefighters, and has not always had friendly relations with the volunteer side of the service. It was suggested to me recently though, that the fact that the IAFF wrote a letter should be considered as good news. We at least got their attention for a few minutes. That's more than I can say for any other fire service organization.

On the positive side of things, you can still support the motion by writing your MP. It only takes three minutes.

On another positive note, Dave Caroll may bring his Everyday Heroes tour to Thunder Bay. He's the United Breaks Guitars guy. If you haven't seen his trilogy of videos yet, you've missed an important part of Canadian cultural history. I spoke with one of his agents on Friday, and there is a chance we can arrange for a tour stop in Thunder Bay, possibly in the fall. You can read about the tour, and how to contact Dave's organization here.

You may remember me jesting about M-635 going viral. Dave harnessed the power of social networking, and whether intentionally or not, created a customer service tsunami that got the attention of the world.

Time to take lessons on virtually viral tsunami creation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Hook

Upsala Fire Department is accepting applications for the position of Firefighter. Not that I can remember a time when we weren't accepting applications, but that's beside the point. There's a rumour that if you drive too close to the fire hall bay doors, a giant hook will dart out and snaffle your car into a secret room where you are brainwashed into signing your life away as a volunteer firefighter. But it's just a rumour.

Speaking of recruitment, the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association got a $50,000 grant to develop a tool box to assist departments with recruiting so they don't have to resort to giant snaffling hooks to fill their rosters. The the final report was finished last May, but I just saw it today. If you aren't intimidated by 128 pages of information and good ideas, click here. If you are a dedicated and patient recruiter, read the whole thing from start to finish. If you suffer from mild ADHD like me, I suggest that you go to page 37, the Local Fire Department Self-Assessment Tool, and work from there. Click here for a document that gives background information on the endeavour. The Ontario government developed a similar guideline a few years ago, which you can see here.

The problem with a comprehensive recruiting strategy is that it assumes you actually have people to recruit. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the hard work that went into these documents. I glean useful information from them and put it to the best use I can. But every recruiting technique must be built on the firm foundation of warm and willing people. If they are in short supply, the strategy is just words.

It kind of reminds me of the fire investigation courses I've taken. They always include a hands-on segment for students to analyse an actual fire, set by the instructors. The problem I had with this valuable learning experience was that a suppression crew knocked the fire down before it burned up all the "evidence." Many of the fires I investigate are complete burnouts. The basic principles are the same, but the techniques are not as effective as they are in the controlled burns.

Many small communities are headed toward complete recruitment burnout. The general principles in these resource packages are good, but more help is needed than just good screening policies and media blitzes.

Volunteer fire departments are being bombarded with challenges like Benghazi is being bombarded by Gadhafi. Recruitment strategies and UN resolutions are all good and well as long as there are still survivors next week or next year when the dust settles. More help is needed, sooner than later.

One omission from most government sponsored recruitment strategies is the possibility of funding as part of the solution. I understand that money is in short supply, and that it isn't the only answer, but I wonder how well our police and ambulance counterparts would do without it. It was generous of the Alberta government to award that $50,000 grant and everything, but $50,000 is less than they put into one police officer every year. One police officer.

You can read more of my crazy ideas on recruiting here.

And now it's time to go polish up my giant hook.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In the Beginning

My two year blog anniversary is approaching. This is when I'm supposed to get all sentimental and make the following speech:

"I want to thank the
Weather Gremlins, the Evil Anti-Volunteer Syndicates, Bloomer Bomber (and his terroristically boneheaded cohorts), our venerable bureaucrats and politicians, and the stupid cat on 1st Concession. I couldn't have written these 250 posts without you guys."

Well, maybe I could have, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. Anyway, I'm not sentimental, so I won't say that. But it has been a lot of fun.

In keeping with my disorganized personality, I didn't have a plan when I began blogging. I asked a few questions, got a little advice from Gerry Arnold who writes the
Team Oakville blog, and leaped off the virtual cliff without a parachute. No soul searching about what to write, or who would read it, or what I should name it. I wish I had given a little thought to the last question, because that was the first question Blogger asked me. And no, sorry I couldn't just start writing and think up a good name later. I had to decide RIGHT NOW or I couldn't even write one word.

It was kind of like not being allowed to leave the hospital until your newborn baby has a name. Talk about pressure. No wonder there are so many Joes and Janes in the world. Fortunately for me, Erinn is a planner, and both of my kids had names before the end of the first trimester.

Unfortunately for me, Erinn was not around when I named my blog. Why hadn't I thought this through a little bit? "Tim's Blog" or "Beebe's Blog" or "Tim Beebe's Blog" were boring, not to mention that some other disorganized Tim Beebe had already claimed those domains. I finally landed on Beebewitz, which is a nickname that I shared with my brothers when we were younger. Not realizing the finality of the decision, I picked Beebewitz's Blog.

Now I'm finally ready to name my blog for real. In retrospect, it's probably a good thing they made me pick a name right off the hop, because two years is a long time to live in limbo. The only problem with changing now is that I'm an Internet klutz, and chances are I'd screw something up and lose the whole shebang. I guess I'm stuck with Beebewitz, at least until I figure out a way to change without losing two years worth of readers and blogging history.

By the way,
shebang is a real word.

On a completely different topic, I had a chat with the Wandering River Deputy Chief the other day. Actually she's the former Deputy Chief, because Wandering River Fire Department
closed down completely in February. So much for the Alberta government's short and long term solutions that were promised last summer when this all came to a head. At least now they might believe that we aren't bluffing when we say the volunteer service is in trouble.

Wandering River is at least a couple days drive from Upsala, with different geography and demographics, but it's amazing how many times I nodded my head and said, "Yeah, I know what you mean," or "Yep, we have the same issue here." I hear similar stories from other parts of Canada as well. People are becoming less inclined to give away their precious time for free, even for a good cause. Especially when their governments stand back and say, "Sorry, can't help. Fire departments are a local issue."

You can read a post that I wrote last summer about educating the government here. You can see a related cartoon here.

Now would be a good time for the federal and provincial governments to break their long cherished traditions of doing little or nothing for volunteer fire departments. And it's also time for firefighters to break our long cherished tradition of being strong and silent.

After 20 plus years of service, and hundreds of calls on the Trans Canada Highway, Upsala firefighters have helped people from every corner of the continent.

It sure seems like more than a local issue to me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

gadget doohickeys

I love little gadget doohickeys that make it look like I know how to write html-anese. Except that everyone knows that Blogger uses dummy proof doohickeys, and that even my dog Sasha could install most of them blindfolded with one paw tied behind her back. By the way, did you know that doohickey is really a word? It is.

Now that you are sufficiently impressed with my literary prowness - that is, if you clicked the link and saw that doohickey really is a word - check out my install-a-gadget prowness and cast a vote on my new voter doohickey on the right side. And after you're done voting 'yes,' click on the M-635 icon doohickey and email your MP (if you haven't already).

Speaking of contacting MP's, I sent an email today to Conservative MP Brian Jean from Fort McMurray - Athabasca riding and requested that he consider moving M-635 forward to second reading. MP's have more important things to do than respond immediately to every two-bit fire chief that writes them about life and death issues, so I don't expect an answer right away, but I do hope he at least considers the issue before hitting the delete button. He should consider it. Wandering River is in his riding, and the town of 400+ people currently has no fire department because of recruiting problems.

You can read a post that I wrote last summer about Wandering River and some of the reasons volunteer departments have recruiting problems here. You can read my October column for Fire and EMS Quarterly (which stemmed from the Wandering River story) here. After you're done reading those fascinating pieces of Canadian literature, you can email MP Jean and tell him that you think he should take up M-635.

I never was into giving subtle hints.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Of Lions, Lambs, Lynx, and Hares

It's time for March to take a firm personality stand. Either come in as a howling blizzardy lion, or a sunny, snow-melting lamb. Then at least we'll know what to expect at the end of the month. This year, March couldn't make up it's mind, so it came in with a few lame flurries that left us wondering whether we'll be buried in snow or slogging in slush in four weeks. You'll agree that this doesn't look particularly lionish, nor does it fit the bill for snow-melting lambishness.

Since the weather gremlins can't get their act together this year, I propose a third category to supplement the traditional lion and lamb stereotypical weather patterns: the March Lynx.

Stop rolling your eyes long enough to hear me out on this one.

A lion roars, has big teeth, and is scary (not unlike a March blizzard). A lamb is cute and soft and cuddly (not unlike a March thaw). A lynx is in between. It looks soft and cuddly, but it has sharp teeth, and can scream in a manner that curdles your blood and rattles your spine like an aspen leaf before a thunderstorm. March weather is not unlike a lynx. Soft and cuddly one minute, then a screaming maelstrom the next.

March weather may be nutty, but it's usually harmless (except that it was -30 again this morning. Ouch). Lynx are generally harmless too, unless you are a snowshoe hare. But snowshoe hares don't care about March weather, so their opinion doesn't count. On the other hand, perhaps crazy March weather can be attributed to the fact that the March Lynx has eaten too many March Hares.

Now you can roll your eyes.

So here is my counter axiom to supplement the traditional Lion/Lamb theory: When March comes in like a lynx, it goes out like a hare. A crazy March Hare. My long range weather prediction accuracy rate is running at about 50%, which is considerably better than Environment Canada. We'll see how this one pans out.

Oh, and by the way, when this March lynx thing catches on and goes viral, remember you heard it here first.

Here is a picture of a real live Upsala lynx that you may have already seen in my Groundhog Day post (thanks again, Christina).

I don't know what the weather is like in the Middle East and North Africa, but the political climate resembles a March lynx suffering from March Hare indigestion. You can get a synopsis of the state of various Middle Eastern and North African countries here.

Speaking of political climates, my feelings about support for M-635 are similar to my feelings about the non-commital entry of the March Lynx. I wish the various organizations would either roar like a lion or follow along like a lamb. Volunteer groups have voiced their support, but several larger organizations have left me wondering.

The CAFC gave a brief nod to the motion, then affirmed that they were going to focus on the Give Firefighters Credit campaign (which I support whole heartedly). Not exactly an endorsement, but at least it wasn't opposition. Very lynxish.

The IAFF, which is the union that represents career firefighters, sent a letter to John Rafferty about M-635. I saw a copy of it yesterday, and I must admit, it seemed lynxish as well. In short, it said supporting firefighters was a good idea, but don't forget the career guys. It was neither support nor opposition . . . and it made me uneasy. I find this even more perplexing than schizophrenic spring weather. I'd like to be on friendly terms with this well-funded organization, and I don't expect them to support a volunteer firefighter motion. Most of all, I do not want to compete with them. The intent of the motion was to put a spotlight on critical problems in places like Wandering River and Upsala. Canadian career departments may have funding issues, but I've never heard of one being stuck in the middle of nowhere doing an extrication or fire with two or three responders and ancient equipment . . . and no back up on the way. The intent of M-635 was to help these situations.

I'm still waiting for a response from the OAFC. I'm actually a member of this organization, but they haven't given an opinion on M-635 yet, or replied to my request to help spread the word. I understand that the OAFC executive directors are fire guys with lots of stuff on their plates, and that they'll get around to commenting eventually. I'm hoping for support from these folks, but I still feel a bit lynxish about the delay.

To make the situation even more bewildering, all three organizations are full of great people. In fact, some of them are good friends that I consider to be amongst the best and truest people on earth. It's the organizations that remind me of a March lynx.

Enough with the political analogies. When a person is trapped in their crashed vehicle somewhere between Raith and English River, at that precise moment they don't give a fig about March hares or March lynx, or whether we're with the IAFF, CAFC or OAFC. They just want help.

Here's hoping that small rural Canadian fire departments will figure out a way to continue that service for many years to come.

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