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Genuine heroes

March 2010


The word hero is thrown around a lot, mostly undeservedly.  Two people who are indeed GENUINE heroes are Wasaga Beach Firefighters Jason Bavelaar and Reno Levesque.  Bevelaar and Levesque, although off-duty and without their safety equipment, recently entered a burning and smoke-filled Wasaga Beach home and rescued a male occupant, overcome by the smoke inside.  I say they are true, bona-fide HEROS because what they did was incredibly dangerous and perhaps a little stupid.  I know that sounds like I am criticizing them, but what if they were overcome by the smoke, or became trapped, and had to be rescued by their co-workers?  What if their clothing caught fire and they ended up in the hospital with serious burns?   However, like soldiers in the heat of a battle, they disregarded their own safety and did what they had to do.

I served 13 years in the Canadian Navy, and although I was not a fire-fighter by trade, all naval personnel are required to undertake fire-fighting training, as you can’t exactly dial “911” when you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  I have been in real, although simulated, fire situations, and can tell you first hand that the smoke generated in most fires makes it very difficult to see anything other than an orange glow (where the fire is).  This is besides the fact that most fires, especially residential, create a horrific stew of toxic chemicals that kill more people than the fire itself.  Most people who die in burning buildings die of smoke inhalation, not burning to death.

This is exactly why I believe that Fire-fighters Bevelaar and Levesque MUST, I repeat MUST, be awarded a medal for bravery.  This situation had a positive outcome, but very easily could have resulted in three deaths.
I don’t know if I would enter a burning building, as I am fully aware of the dangers.  I would feel more comfortable waiting for the Fire Department to arrive and do what they are trained and equipped to do.  Bevelaar and Levesque did enter a burning building at great risk to their lives.  That is the definition of a true HERO

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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