Local firefighters brave the elements for local charities

By Lindsay Ducharme

While most consider the Victoria Day long weekend to be the official start to the camping season, local firefighters are foregoing the rules when they host their annual Rooftop Campout on April 2nd-6th. During the campout six Fort McMurray firefighters will spend four days, or 100 hours to be exact, on the rooftop of the Eagle Ridge Tim Horton’s.

“It’s such a unique event, no one else in the city does anything like this where you have six guys on a rooftop for 100 hours,” said Fort McMurray firefighter and event organizer Scott Germain.

“We are up there rain, snow, sunshine, it doesn’t matter. It’s firefighters and people like that. I think it does parallel really well with our job, we respond to emergencies and do whatever it takes to get the job done, and same thing with this event, no matter the weather or conditions because we believe in these local charities and want to support them.”

The Rooftop Campout began four years ago when local firefighters heard about the unique fundraiser benefitting Muscular Dystrophy. “Essentially we thought it was a really, really cool fundraiser,” explained Germain.

“For the first two years we donated to Muscular Dystrophy Canada exclusively, but then we thought although they are a great cause, why are we giving so much money away to an organization in Ontario when there are so many worthy causes here in Fort McMurray. It was such a large amount of money we raised, so we figured we would take it in our own direction and donate the money to local charities instead,” he continued.

For their fourth annual event, the Fort McMurray Firefighters have partnered with the Fort McMurray Food Bank, Unity House, Centre of Hope, the Boys and Girls Club, Santa’s Anonymous and, new this year, the Fort McMurray SPCA.

“The first five charities are the ones we have supported the last 20 years, as our city grows and our department grows, our charity list can also grow. People have been telling us for years that they thought we should support the SPCA so we decided to add them this year,” he added.

While six charities may seem like a large number for one event, organizers have set a lofty fundraising goal of $50,000. Should they reach their goal, Fort McMurray would secure the second spot for highest amount raised during the campout. “Campouts happen in 15 spots across the country, but we do ours a little bit differently. In a lot of the other places the guys will go up in shifts for 24 hours or 12 hours at a time, but we are the only place that our guys are up there for the whole time. Last year it was so cold, but it doesn’t matter. Edmonton raised $120,000 and the second highest was $50,000 so if we can beat $50,000 then we would secure our spot in the top two,” Germain said.

While camping on a rooftop is certainly the centerpiece of the event, the Rooftop Campout encompasses much more than simply the camping. Throughout the four day event, firefighters not camping will be hosting nightly events and draws at the East Village Pub. On April 5th the firefighter’s Pancake Breakfast will also be held at the pub.

“There’s so many cool things going on, every night at the East Village Pub we are giving away free yoga sessions, free boudoir photos, we have gym membership and lots of other items, it will be a great time and people will have a chance to win something. As well we have our pancake breakfast, which is really fun for the kids, with balloon animals and colouring contests. It’s a really great event to bring family and friends to, as well you are donating and making a difference to the cause,” Germain said.

For more information and the latest updates during the Rooftop Campout like the Fort McMurray Firefighters Association on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @fmfa2494.