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The Ruttle Report - A Calling That Many Can't Answer

I think it takes a special kind of person to be someone who works – who CHOOSES to work – in any kind of emergency field; police officers, emergency responders, ER physicians, you get the picture.

I think it takes a special kind of person to be someone who works – who CHOOSES to work – in any kind of emergency field; police officers, emergency responders, ER physicians, you get the picture.  There’s gotta be something in their DNA that just directs them toward the more-thrilling, more-unpredictable aspects of life, and it’s incredible.

Then you have firefighters.

And before you get the stereotypical picture of firemen with all the bells and whistles, allow me to be much more specific.  I’m not talking about how Hollywood makes it look in the movies, with groups of guys hanging out at a big, stocked station house and passing the time while they’re just waiting for a call.

No, I’m talking about the reality of it out here in rural Saskatchewan, where local fire departments are made up of VOLUNTEERS who already have full-time jobs and families waiting for them to come home at night.  They’re business owners and blue-collar types; the guys who work on your car, fix things at your house, sell you goods and services, and then see you at the post office or in any random aisle at the grocery store.

Despite already having full lives of their own, they drop everything that they’re doing when the call comes in, strap on their gear, hop in the trucks and head on out; bound for a situation that they’re not always entirely sure can be handled by themselves.

It’s a calling that many, me included, can’t answer.  Again, it has to be something in their DNA that eludes the rest of us.

Take the Outlook Fire Department, for example.  In a span of less than four weeks, they’ve been called out to two separate fires that were not only huge and dangerous, but incredibly time-consuming on both their part and other emergency workers.

First up was the building blaze in town on April 17, which happened just a block west of us here at The Outlook.  Well, I guess it was *technically* on April 17, but only because the guys got the call about an hour into the day at around 1:00 in the morning.  It also happened to be Easter Monday, too.  For the rest of the late night and into the morning hours, they fought the fire that ended up swallowing the old Outlook Electric building and the neighboring office space.

It wasn’t until around noon that they’d finished up, and the scorched buildings were demolished to the ground.  So, it was pretty much a 12-hour shift for some very tired but very dedicated firefighters.

Then there was the most recent fire from this past Friday, which you can read about on the front page.  Flames started naturally at the Elcan Forage processing plant just east of Outlook when a bale caught fire, and thanks to the wind, it only magnified the situation ten-fold and caused it to get bigger.  The Conquest and Macrorie fire departments came in and added their own volunteer manpower, and once again, it was another all-nighter for the guys before the situation was considered under control by around noon on Saturday.

As I type this, that entire area is still smouldering, and I learned it’s supposed to keep doing that for probably a few more days.

Outside of serving their own community, I’ve watched Outlook’s fire crew volunteer themselves to serve others, such as in the summer of 2015 when they went up north to help stave off the wildfires in this province at the time.  We ran a front page photo of the guys before they were set to take off on a Monday morning.  By Friday afternoon of that week, their wives, girlfriends and families were waiting for them back at the fire hall in town to give them a deserved ‘Welcome Back’ when they returned to Outlook.

If recent instances such as the two major fires in Outlook and the nearby area have shown us anything, it’s that we probably don’t thank people such as volunteer firefighters enough for what they do.

So I guess I’ll take this moment to tip my proverbial hat to everyone who answers that call.  You’re all appreciated very much for what you do.  Hopefully, regardless of the danger involved, you all still get to go home at night safe and sound to the people who matter the most to you.

For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.