Firefighter calendar giving back to county

Building community awareness while at the same time breeding familiarity with that community is one of the main objectives of the Red Deer County’s involvement in a firefighter calendar.

As photographer Charles Hope

Building community awareness while at the same time breeding familiarity with that community is one of the main objectives of the Red Deer County’s involvement in a firefighter calendar.

More than two dozen volunteer firefighters with the county were turned out in their colours Tuesday for the annual picture shoot of the 2010 Fire Within calendar.

They gathered at the main county station on the Delburne Road partly to remember a colleague Will Armitage who died last year leaving a family.

Capt. Les Gostola said the calendar is a way to give back to the county.

“When we got into this years ago we made a commitment to give back to the county,” Gostola said.

The volunteers vote on a few charities they want to donate to yearly as their share of calendar proceeds.

“One of the major benefits is that those firefighters who don’t know all the county get the opportunity on calendar drive sales to become familiar with the far flung county.

“All of a sudden they’re learning more about the county because they’re going to places they’ve never seen before like Poplar Ridge,” said Gostola, a 15-year veteran with the force.

“The county maintains five fire halls.

“In a way it introduces us to the community and it introduces the community to the firefighters,” he added.

The calendar goes on sale in September for $20.

Gostola said 60 per cent of the proceeds go back to the community for charities while 40 per cent goes for costs and the social club.

“It’s our only fundraiser,” Gostola said.

Chad Sartison, chairman of the calendar, said the project is truly community based.

“Every dollar raised by the Red Deer County department will stay in their community,” Sartison said.

The project has spread across regions of Canada including British Columbia and Ontario.

This year the county is one of two Alberta departments joining Banff in a national calendar.

Last year the cross-Canada effort raised $420,000.

Tuesday also saw photographer Charles Hope attend the Lacombe Fire Department station for their calendar shots.

Red Deer County supplies all the money necessary to keep its firefighter force supplied with top equipment and training for volunteers.

However, The Fire Within organization did award more than $250,000 in equipment and training to various Canadian volunteer departments which participated.

The visually stunning calendars feature photos of individual departments and assist with team-building, Sartison said.

There are more than 390 volunteer fire departments in Alberta accounting for 9,000 of the province’s 12,000 firefighters.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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