Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Peril of Caring (in which I engage Oprah and Dr Phil in mortal combat)

Caring is dangerous. While I don't pretend to understand the complex firefighter psyche, I do know that emotions and emergency scenes don't mix. Firefighters have feelings like everyone else, but we understand that tears blur the vision and impair competence. It's not that we don't cry. We just wait for a safe place to do it.

[This was supposed to be an equal and opposite reaction to my Oprah post (in accordance with Newton's Third Law of Motion), but instead it sounds like Oprah and Dr. Phil have ganged up on me. Let's try this again.]

Too much feeling at ugly scenes leads to nasty things like Critical Incident Stress, so firefighters guard against caring. At least that's my uneducated point of view. You've probably met crusty veterans that don't seem to care about anything. I don't believe that it's really true. They've just figured out that if they cared about everything there is to care about, they'd go crazy. Instead they prioritize, and build defenses against the rest. Lots of the seasoned veterans I've met appear to be cold and cynical, but in reality they're saving their passion to apply in places where it will do some good.

[Back off Dr. Phil, I'm getting to a point here.]

Humans are programed to care. We care about our families, our pets, our homes, our friends, our neighbours. That's one thing that makes us different from wolves and bears and moose. Our scope of caring is much broader than other creatures. The down side of this humanity is that we are damaged when those we care about suffer. We can isolate the damage when the suffering occurs in far away places like Libya or Iraq, but when it happens at our doorstep, it is inescapable.

[I could have taken Dr. Phil or Oprah separately, but I think I'm losing ground here.]

Fortunately, in normal life we don't encounter disaster on a regular basis. People that do - like folks in Iraq or Libya - must have to develop some kind of major defense to keep their sanity. The rest of us have to deal with the loss of a friend here, or a family member there, but we recover and move on with our normal caring lives.

Emergency responders, on the other hand, are exposed to more than their fair share of human disaster. The result is that they protect themselves emotionally. They can't afford to make a personal connection with the people they are trying to help. It isn't pretense, and it isn't callousness. I believe that it is a mechanism that is put in place by nature to protect our vulnerable inner persons. Kind of like a figurative SCBA that provides fresh emotional air for our souls in an environment that is hostile toward human feeling.

[It looks like Ralph Waldo Emerson just joined forces with Oprah and Dr. Phil. I'm doomed.]

I think this is why it was such a stunning revelation to me to realize that I connect with people that care. All of those folks I alluded to in my Oprah post have faced more than their share of emotionally hostile situations. All have every good reason to not care about anything outside their small circles of family and friends. All have chosen to care about something bigger than that. That's dangerously impressive.

Wow, this opposite and equal reaction against Oprahism was a lot more difficult and hazardous than I imagined. I'll take Stephen Harper or Dalton McGuinty as blogger fodder any day.

To wind down this pseudo-philosophical post, here is a video clip that I saw on the Firefighting in Canada blog.

The fact that this guy appears to care about us makes me like him. I feel an emotional attachment developing. I see red flags and warning lights. I sure hope he never crashes on the stretch of highway between Raith and English River. I'd have to pay Dr. Phil a visit for sure.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Facing the Music

When I walked in the door yesterday evening, my ears were assaulted by a wailing sound, which I eventually deciphered as a female voice attempting Amazing Grace. I traced the ruckus to the living room television.

"Somebody shoot that lady and put her out of her misery," I said, as I hung up my coat.

"That's Aretha Franklin [you idiot]," Erinn replied.

"She's a singer?"

"She's a legend."

Oops. I guess I've been cloistered in the peripheral edge of the universe a little too long. Both of my parents are talented musicians, and I grew up in a world of Beethoven, Mozart, and concertos played on our two pianos in the living room. Our record player played it's fair share of other music as well, including Negro Spirituals, which by the way are the root of modern soul music. As I grew older, I expanded my tastes to include other genres, but somehow I missed this segment of my education. I didn't question Ms. Franklin's musical prowess, but I did wish that she would just hurry up and sing the blasted song.

[Side note: You may be appalled by this melodic sacrilege, but remember it's only my opinion. Feel free to give yours in the under-utilized comment section at the bottom of this post :-)]

We're all products of our upbringing, good, bad, or indifferent. Even firefighters, who share a common mission, are separated by the cultural differences that shaped our communities and careers. We are like a professional European Union. We agree on some things in principal, but are as diverse as the Sicilians are from the Swedes.

The OAFC conference was like a cultural roller coaster for me. The business meetings in particular were like the proverbial ethnic melting pot. I had little interest in collective bargaining issues and municipal relations, but I suspect that the others in the room felt the same way about northern volunteer problems. Like all meetings, occasionally the issues on the floor turned into a game of Ring Around the Rosie to the tune of Robert's Rules. A few times I felt like Aretha Franklin singing Amazing Grace . . . can we please hurry up and just sing the blasted song already?

I was impressed though, that we managed to tolerate each others' regional madness without calling for a shotgun to put the other guy out of his misery. The members even voted (unanimously I believe) in favour of two resolutions presented by Thunder Bay area chiefs.


Late one night in Toronto as I sat in the hotel room blogging and mulling about the connection I felt with my cultural kaleidoscope of fire service friends, I had a moment of enlightenment where the stars aligned and the craziness in the world made sense for a brief second. I realized that I was magnetized toward these people because they cared. Fire chiefs, captains, training officers, deputy chiefs, editors, firefighters, volunteers, career . . . Toronto, Fort Frances, Oakland, Upsala, Atikokan, Thunder Bay, north, south . . . the unifying factor amongst them all was not the job, it was the passion.

How’s that for an Oprah moment.

The next morning I announced this revelation at Perkins while having a 6:30 breakfast with Andrew, a Toronto fire captain that holds honorary Northwestern Ontario citizenship. He raised an eyebrow, looked at me over his unfinished coffee, and said, "Huh?" which translates from the original Torontonian as roughly, “I always knew you were a little odd.”

Speaking of people that care, Reagan Breeze from Dryden Fire Service hosted an Emergency Preparedness Student Survival Challenge at the local public school. He is extending a friendly challenge to other towns to participate as well. You can get more information on bringing the challenge to your community at the Emergency Management Ontario web site. In light of recent disasters across the continent from fire, flood, and tornadoes, preparedness makes a lot of sense.

On that same theme, if you live in Ontario you can subscribe to EMO's public warning system to get email and text alerts about various types of emergencies in the province. Click here for more details.

There you go. A little disaster management to bring balance to a soul searching, feel-good post. Don't fault me too much for the Oprah undertones. Now that the Queen of Talk has retired, someone has to take up the torch.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond

If Space Adventures offered trips to the moon for a million dollars per seat, it would technically be good value, because tickets are reportedly worth 150 million dollars. Good value isn't the same as practical value, however, which is why I'm not planning to make the trip, at least until the price comes down.

In a weird way, that's how I felt about the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference. While it was unquestionably superb value, it was also undoubtedly out of reach for most of us in Northwestern Ontario without the help of a rich uncle. The excursion cost nearly $2000, which is half of my annual training budget. While I gained a new perspective of the world, and connected with lots of wonderful people (hard to put a value on that), I'm going to have difficulty justifying attendance again unless I can work out a similar deal to this year

Deep philosophizing aside, I am glad that our rich uncle at OFM made it possible for me to go this year. Here are a few highlights from the conference:
  • The Firefighters Without Borders presentation conjured an unrealistic impulse to sign up for a trip to Honduras to help with their work. Strange thing about interests . . . some people's imagination is captured by diamonds or oil reserves, and they become millionaires that can afford trips to the moon. My imagination is captured by people camping on roofs for calendar fundraisers, and firefighters paying their own way to Honduras to deliver training and equipment. I guess a life of wealth is not in the cards for me.
  • Two presentations on the volunteer service, one by Chad Sartison from the Fire Within, and the other by Steve Gamble, Langley BC were of high interest. You can see the BC study on Transforming the Fire Service here. Anyone that champions volunteer firefighters is my hero.
  • A few of the presentations reminded me of those multi-vitamin horse pills that barely fit down your throat. The information presented was high value and educationally nutritious, but I wished the presenters had offered them as chewable kid's tablets instead.
  • One presentation on proper dinner etiquette made me wonder if I had taken a wrong turn and ended up at an Emily Post conference. Being an open-minded person, I did pay attention, and at the banquet that night made a point of eating continental style. When I found myself expounding on the finer points of etiquette to my children later that week, I realized that this lady made a bigger impression on me than I originally thought. Scary.
All kidding aside, I sensed a measure of power behind the OAFC.  If we can bridge the geographic and cultural gaps between the chiefs in Northwestern Ontario and those in the south, it would benefit us all. Our interests and needs are as varied as the Ontario landscape, which makes it challenging to present a unified front to the rest of the world, and especially to our political leaders. I have no immediate answer for this dilemma, and I'm not sure anyone else does either.


The Slave Lake story just got sadder. A pilot died when his chopper crashed into the lake yesterday. You can read more on the story here. 
A line of duty death unifies the global fire service, cutting across the widest cultural and geographic gaps. With lunar tourist travel emerging as a possibility, you'd think we'd be able to bridge a few terrestrial gaps without suffering the loss of fellow firefighter.

It's an astronomical goal, but it never hurts to shoot for the moon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Help for Slave Lake

Just a quick note: if you want to help the families of the Slave Lake fire crews, click here for a link to the Fire Within Firefighters1st web page. You can donate by Paypal.

Sounds like they've had their hands full, and many have lost their homes while out fighting the fire. Take a minute and check out the site.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Workaholic, Stephen Harper, Jekyll and Hyde, and other unrelated topics

There is a logical reason why I am so exhausted. It's actually quite simple. The College's air packs have gained weight, the Thunder Bay fire tower has grown a couple storeys higher, the temperature of fire has increased by several hundred degrees, and the days now have twenty-six hours instead of twenty-four.

Alternately, I'm just getting older and wimpier.

Whatever the real reason, I'm looking forward to two weekends off before hitting the road again. Working two jobs for fifty days straight was an interesting experience, but it will be nice to kick back and enjoy a little sunshine and spring. Hopefully no one will tell the black flies that the snow is gone. That would ruin the pleasant effect of a long weekend.

I did have a 'sort of' break during the first week of May at the OAFC conference. At least I was under the illusion that I was having a break, because I wasn't swimming in ice water or crawling into burning fire towers. The problem lay in Erinn not being there to tell me to go to bed at night, so instead of sleeping I stayed up late networking and blogging and researching. Don't say it. I know that I'm my own worst enemy. Fortunately, I have the next two weekends off to catch up on work around the house, blogging, and sleep, not necessarily in that order.

My latest post at the CVFSA blog is up now. I took the opportunity to write Stephen Harper a friendly letter reminding him that firefighters are nice people, and that he promised to increase our numbers. Unfortunately, two links that I included to jog his memory didn't make it through to the final version. I posted them a while ago, but you can see them here and here.

I've been a fire chief for just over fifteen years now, and I believe I am finally beginning to think like one . . . or at least I'm developing a dual personality of sorts. The practical, caring, Firefighter Jekyll in me is sometimes challenged by the cautious, liability-minded Chief Hyde. We arrived at the scene of a grass fire last week to find a young man walking his dog within a few feet of a very obviously live hydro line. The firefighter side of me said, "He's an idiot, but I'm glad he didn't get fricasseed." The chief side of me said, "Get that idiot out of there before he gets fricasseed and someone says it's my fault."

We got him out of there, then had to decide what to do with the live wire. The area around it was burned and didn't pose much of a fire hazard anymore, but there was always the possibility of another traveller walking his dog next to it, or using it for a jump rope, or thinking it would make a nice laundry line. Hydro wasn't going to be on scene for a few hours, and I have enough experience babysitting hydro lines to fill several resumes, so I wasn't keen on sticking around.

The practical firefighter side of me said, "It's ten kilometres away from the village in no-man's land. Just leave it. It's not your problem." The litigation-minded fire chief side of me countered with, "I don't want to get sued because some idiot gets fried and blames me for leaving the wire."

Firefighter Jekyll and Fire Chief Hyde finally shook hands and agreed to a compromise. I stretched a yellow hazard tape around the area and headed back to the hall. The odd thing is that it didn't make the scene much safer - people that hang laundry on live wires aren't slowed down by yellow tape - but it may have been viewed by the courts as a small amount of due diligence if someone did get zapped. Chief Hyde might have gotten the upper hand on this one.

I'm out of time and have written enough to take the edge off my lack-of-blogging withdrawal symptoms, so you'll have to wait again for my conference thoughts. I'll leave you with a couple links:

This Fire Engineering site has information about air management, and a link to download a free video on the subject. Free stuff is always good, especially if it's training related.

Here's an OFM site called FireChat that offers a wheelbarrow load of fire service social media links. The Upsala Fire Department Facebook page and my blog are on the list now, thanks to a friendly OFM staff named Martha, whom I met at the OAFC conference.

Firefighters1st is raising funds to help the volunteer fire departments at Slave Lake, which was recently ravaged by a forest fire. You can check out their site here (note: I just checked the site and am not sure it's working, but if you are interested in helping, contact Firefighters1st through their Facebook page).

Here is another Facebook page that contains links if you want to help the folks at Slave lake.

And finally, some very good news: the world is not going to end on May 21st. I'm happy about that because I had plans for the weekend. It is, after all, my first weekend off since the end of March.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

whirling dervish

I've been a Tasmanian Devil trying to catch my tail for the last week, and haven't been able to snatch time for blogging. I did send a post to the Canadian Volunteer Firefighters Association yesterday, and it should be up soon (I'm not able to post it myself yet, and have to wait for admin to do it. Grrrr).

For now, check out this video and training site on safety around high voltage lines (thanks to Ken VanEvery for sending the link). It came just after I chased a young traveller away from a dangling high voltage line yesterday at a grass fire. There's more to that story, but it will have to wait . . . along with stories that continue to smoulder from the conference . . . and potential stories from the Mod A that we are going to teach this weekend in Thunder Bay . . . and stories about my withdrawal symptoms from going cold turkey off of blogging . . . grrrrr.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mothers Day Special

My mom taught me good manners and proper etiquette, but I'm still rough around the edges. I try to sheathe the sharp spots with courtesy and civility, but the padding wears through at inconvenient times . . . usually when I voice one opinion too many. Incidentally, that's why I like writing. It's a safe venue to spill my roughness in a secluded setting, then grind off the sharper edges before someone gets stabbed.

Yes, my column for Fire and EMS Quarterly is the polished version of my opinions. I assure you, many, many sharp edges are honed off before a draft ever reaches Laura King's desk. She then helps me hone off a few more. This blog, on the other hand, is a rougher version. I still grind and file and polish to an obsession, but it is less refined because I have the ability to publish it instantly, before it passes through the filter of more rational minds. As for my raw opinions, you don't want to see them.

At the OAFC fun night last Tuesday I bumped into Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek who asked how I was enjoying the conference. You'd think a two-bit chief who was enjoying an all-expenses-paid trip to Toronto would be nice to his benefactor. I meant to be - the first words out of my mouth were a cordial thank you for the support - but I couldn't bear to let this top fire official escape without a challenge. Was he aware that many small departments were unable to maintain themselves to provincial standards? Wouldn't it be better to provide support to these essential emergency responders, rather than bring down the hammer of compliance?

Fire Marshal Wieclawek countered that small departments needed to comply with provincial regulations like everyone else. I agreed, then gave my rough-around-the-edges point of view: some are hanging by their fingernails from the edge of a figurative cliff. The provincial hammer will send them plummeting into the abyss, back to the dark ages when we had no fire protection.

At this point, I remembered that Erinn (who is also a mother) had admonished me to remember that this was a fun night. I mumbled something about not wanting to detain him, and that I hoped he enjoyed the rest of the evening. FM Wieclawek expressed his desire that no one fall off any cliffs, and suggested we talk about this further sometime. Discussion is always a good idea, but I'd better bring along a personal referee to kick me in the shins when the padding starts to wear thin. Sorry Mom, I'm still a work in progress.

Part of the problem is that I'm a slow thinker. It takes me a long time to process my feelings about any given topic. That's why my column is called Spontaneous Combustion. Issues brew a long time in my brain before they burst into the flame of opinion.

Another part of the problem is that I'm always thinking. I can't turn it off, especially when I'm in a week long environment of fire related topics. Opinions and views that have simmered for years float to the surface, and all it takes is a puff of air in the form of a question, and an innocent bystander gets blasted by the wind driven fire of my feelings at that precise moment. Not very good etiquette for a wine and cheese party. Sorry again Mom.


This weekend I'm in Fort Frances teaching volunteer firefighters, which is a good way to exorcise the Jekyll and Hyde demons that plague me. It gives me a chance to express myself to a group of people that actually came to hear me talk. Rubbing shoulders with volunteer firefighters, and the friends of volunteer firefighters, always brings out the less harsh side of my weird personality. Frank the killer whale, and Gerry, who hasn't got a nickname yet are also here to kick me in the shins if the edgy side comes too close to the surface. They are both superb instructors, and were experienced teachers when I was still cutting my instructor teeth.

This morning I watched Frank wave a magic wand over a fancy device called a Smart Board, which is like an enormous iPad that is also a digital white board, and connects to a laptop as a projector screen. I remarked that Upsala still used clay tablets. A fire chief who was taking the course looked up in mock astonishment and said, "You have clay tablets?" He's from another peripheral edge of the universe department, and I suppose they still write on the walls of caves.


Here's a photo I stole from Fire Chief Vince Mackenzie from Newfoundland. If you are a Firefighting in Canada fan, you may recognize the names.

From top left, clockwise: Firefighting in Canada Editor Laura King, Fire Chief Vince Mackenzie, Tim Beebe, Retired Toronto District Chief Peter Sells.
The best part of the conference was connecting with these folks, and many like them. I had other great experiences, and the resulting unedited thoughts continue to smoulder. Over the next post or two, I'll fan them into flames. For now, it's sufficient to say that I had a good time, and I hope all the people I scorched can say the same. Sorry again Mom.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

the battle

If I could have one wish, I would wish to spend my career networking with the extraordinary folks in the fire service, and still spend weekends and evenings at home with my family.

Don't say it. I know. That's two wishes . . . two conflicting wishes that will grip each others throats in constant warfare until I can figure out a way to make peace between them. I'm going home tomorrow, and the family wish will win for about 18 hours. Then I'm off to Fort Frances to teach the Trainer Facilitator course with Frank the killer whale. It will be a lot of fun, and I will again rub shoulders with the finest people on earth . . . but my family will spend the weekend without me. Again. 

I'm not whining. Honest. At least I shouldn't be. It was an honour to network with the small army of people I connected with this week in Toronto. Some were old friends like Andrew and Cyndy. Some were previous acquaintances that I got to know a little better, like Doug Tennant (Doug, if you're out there in Facebookland, let me know. I'd like to stay in touch).

Then there are those that I've known only as names, or email addresses, or voices on the phone. They were good connections, and good people, and the Internet is a wonderful networking tool . . . but there is no substitute for meeting someone face to face. Vince and Laura are among this crowd. When we meet at FireCon, it will be as old friends now, not cyber connections (that was a hint, by the way).

Wow. The election campaign ends, I bury my inner cynic, and suddenly I reincarnate as a sappy, feel-good, warm and fuzzy milk-toast guy. If you liked the old sarcastic and satirish Tim, never fear. I sense a provincial election campaign brewing, and I fear that my inner cynic may resurrect himself.

It's past 1:00 AM, and I should be sleeping instead of blogging, but allow me to leave you with a couple links:

Paul Combs newest cartoon. I'm not one to dance on anyone's grave, even that of a despicable terrorist that thought nothing of murdering indiscriminately, but I do empathize with the families of the 343 responders that died nearly 10 years ago. And I admire Paul Combs immensely.

The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Association Facebook page. Chad Sartison from Firefighters1st sits on the board, on top of his already busy schedule. He's a man of passion, and I've never heard him whine about being away from his family.

I need to take a lesson from Chad. But I do miss my family. The battle rages on . . .

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Osama bin Laden is dead, Superman gave up his US citizenship, and the Conservatives won a majority government . . . all within 48 hours. The Apocalypse must be just around the corner. Alternately, life will go on with little changes here and there, regardless of the headlines and hype.

In spite of my firm resolution to not take sides publicly, I admit that I'm glad MP Rafferty kept his seat, and that the NDP will take the role of official opposition. I believe that John won't forget the fire service, even with his party's sudden rise to second in command. 

Now that the epidemic of elections is behind us, perhaps the parties can make good on their promises to help the volunteer service. I will miss taking all those cheap campaign shots at our politicians, but I'm sure that Stephen Harper and his newly gained majority will continue to provide plenty of blogger fodder. And the offer is still on for him to come swimming with the sharks if he backs out on any of his election promises to the fire service.

The truly earth shaking news is that it's going to be colder here in Toronto tomorrow than back home in Upsala. It snowed in Upsala this morning, but it's supposed to be sunny and plus 16 there tomorrow . . . and cloudy and plus 8 here. The March Lynx did in fact make it's way into the month of May.

The OAFC Conference geared up another notch yesterday with a massive trade show and a stunning memorial service. I don't think I realized there was so much money and so many fire chiefs in the whole world. And I'm told this is only a tiny piece of what's really out there. It's astonishing, at least from my peripheral edge of the universe point of view.

The best part so far has been getting to know the fire folks closer to the centre of the universe. I had dinner tonight with Firefighting in Canada editor Laura King, Grand Falls, Newfoundland Fire Chief Vince MacKenzie, former Toronto District Chief Peter Sells, and two old instructing friends, Andrew and Cyndy (wow, that was a handful of names and titles). I am sometimes a square peg in a social round hole, but these folks all have enough craziness in them to make me feel very much at home.

I also encountered Firefighters Without Borders today. These folks travel to various needy countries - at their own expense - to deliver training and equipment to firefighters who have next to nothing. I complain frequently about government apathy toward the fire service. These guys spend money out of their own pockets to help firefighters that have little or nothing. If you have spare gear or cash, they need all the help they can get.

The fire service generates some of the finest people on the face of the earth . . . or perhaps the finest people on the face of the earth gravitate toward the fire service. I'm not sure which it is, but I am humbled to call them my friends.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Firefighters are crazy, but I've decided that we aren't crazy enough. On the one hand, we willingly respond day or night to infernos and mangled chaos and scenes of human desperation. The only constant is the variability of each scene. Only crazy people would choose that line of work. On the other hand, we are stuck in age-old traditions and mindsets, and can be resistant to change.

I wonder if exposure to chaos drives this stubborn adherence to tradition. We have no control over an emergency scene until we arrive, so we rigorously control the way we respond, as well as every other aspect of our culture. This regimented approach to disaster enhances safety, and helps us restore order to scenes of destruction. When it spills over into our non emergent operations, however, it can have a negative impact on our ability to adapt and grow.

Tradition is like the ballast in a ship. It lends stability, but it weighs down the organization. As long as we have smooth sailing, everything is hunky dory, but if we encounter stormy seas, we may have to pitch some stuff overboard if we want to stay afloat.

The volunteer service in particular faces turbulent times. Only a crazy person would throw tried and true traditions overboard in the face of recruiting crises, budget cuts, and liability time bombs, but in reality that might be the safest thing to do.  We might have to jettison the past to survive the future. We need a generation of crazy leaders.

Chad Sartison from Firefighters 1st is such a leader (sorry Chad, I didn't really call you crazy . . . or did I?). He urges firefighters to camp on the roofs of local Walmarts and Home Depots once a year to sell calendars and promote the volunteer service. There are several crazy things about this idea:
  • lots of firefighters like to camp on roofs
  • the Walmarts and Home Depots of the world compete with each other to entice firefighters to camp on their roofs
  • the Heroes in the Sky event generates large amounts of revenue, and even larger amounts of publicity for volunteer fire departments each year
  • Chad organizes and leads this effort on a not-for-profit basis
Chad presented on volunteer recruitment and retention today at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Conference in Toronto. At the end, he briefly discussed the Fire Within, and the Heroes in the Sky event. I'm not sure if I read the crowd correctly, but I didn't sense a lot of enthusiasm about camping on roofs.

I am certain that each firefighter in the room could tell stories of crazy innovations that saved the day on the fire ground, but that craziness appeared to be firmly stuffed down in the face of a unique and innovative idea . . . one that could potentially revolutionize an ailing volunteer service. We just aren't crazy enough sometimes.

Speaking of crazy firefighters, I'm posting some of the ice rescue training pictures from Dryden that I promised earlier. Thanks very much to reporter and photographer Ally Dunham from the Dryden Observer for sharing the photos, and Reagan Breeze from Dryden Fire Service for making the arrangements.

Here is a simulated rescue using a Kelhobby tool, a land based ice/water rescue device.

Jump right in! The water's fine!

A simulated rescue using the Fortuna.

What you don't know is that some of the red entry suits are full of holes . . . but you can be sure that the firefighters knew. It may be just me, but it seems a little crazy that a small city surrounded by lakes and rivers is reluctant to buy new equipment for firefighters that are crazy enough to give up Easter weekend to train in ice water. But it might be just me.

Maybe if the Dryden crew was crazy enough to try camping on the roof for one day . . .

Speaking of crazy things, don't forget to vote for the fourth time in seven years. Or is it the seventh time in four years. Anyway, don't forget to vote on Monday.

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