‘We’ll be prepared for anything, and Gary would appreciate that’

Manitoba fire department honors fallen training officer with wildfire incident kit

For these tough ’Tobans, there’ll simply never be training that rivals Gary Smart training.

“As our training officer, Gary’s training tested everyone’s limits,” notes Ray Frost, the fire chief with Miami Fire and Rescue, based in southwest Manitoba, “and the training he created was always applicable—with a specific goal in mind.

“Often, it would be related to something that happened at our previous call. If we’d attended a motor vehicle accident and were a little rusty with the hydraulic rescue tools, he would have us brush up on the Jaws of Life the next week,” adds Frost. “If we hadn’t used Class B foam in a while, then that was going to be a topic in the coming weeks for sure.

“Gary pushed everyone to the limit for good reason. He would smile and tell us, ‘It could happen, you know.’ ”

Just over two years ago, in mid-October 2016, Capt. Gary (Smartie) Smart received his final page, in fire department parlance, when he collapsed while cleaning the roof of his trailer. Miami Fire and Rescue’s volunteers responded to the call every firefighter dreads—an emergency involving a family member or close friend—and tried stoically, but in vain, to revive their fallen comrade.

“Their hearts were breaking and tears were flowing, but they never once stumbled or strayed from their training—the same training that Gary was instrumental in providing us,” recalls Frost.

Safe Community First Responder Program

Since its launch, Enbridge's Safe Community program has invested more than US$16.6 million (more than C$21.5 million) in first responder organizations near our pipelines and facilities.

Two years later, Smart’s legacy continues to endure.

With a $2,500 donation from the Smart family, and a $5,000 Safe Community grant from Enbridge, Miami Fire and Rescue will assemble a wildfire incident kit—consisting of 10 sets of wildfire-rated coveralls, five backpack water spray kits, three high-volume backpack leaf blowers to turn grass and bush fires back on themselves, and a storage container to hold it all.

The kit, to be available for any potential wildfires come spring, will allow all members of the department to attend calls in full turnout gear, should a structure be involved, and change to coveralls at the scene if the fire is contained to grass or brush.

“We’ll be prepared for anything, and Gary would appreciate that,” says Frost. “One of our emergency medical responders told me about a call she had been out on, and she said: ‘You know, Ray, I could hear Smartie looking down over our shoulders at the scene, saying: “See? I told you it could happen.” ’ ”

(TOP PHOTO: Gary Smart, front row, second from right, and Ray Frost, front row at left, pose with Miami Fire and Rescue volunteer colleagues during a training exercise.)