Calgary Fire Department appoints Junior Fire Chief to act as safety ambassador for children

Oliver Hamilton, a nine-year old patient at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, was named the 2016 Junior Fire Chief today in a ceremony at Varsity Fire Station 17. Acting Fire Chief Ken Uzeloc made the announcement, presented the fourth-grader with duty gear and invited him to help inspect the Fire Safety Trailer.

Each year during Fire Prevention Week, the Calgary Fire Department appoints a Junior Fire Chief to act as a fire safety ambassador for his or her peers. Oliver’s duties will include promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, Don’t Wait – Check the Date, encouraging his friends and fellow students at Panorama Hills School to help their families replace smoke alarms every 10 years. As part of Oliver’s day, he and his family went for a ride in a fire engine and had lunch with the crew at Station 17. Fire Prevention Week is led by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and runs from Oct. 9 to 15.

In 2015, one quarter of house fires in Calgary which resulted in injury, occurred in homes without working smoke alarms. According to Calgary Fire Department Public Information Officer Carol Henke, this statistic makes the case for children to get involved in their home’s fire safety.

“Oliver helped his parents check the manufacture date on their smoke alarm and created a home escape plan for his family,” said Henke of the tasks Oliver performed in order to be named Junior Fire Chief. “Partnering with Alberta Children’s Hospital has given us a very capable ambassador who will share the importance of working smoke alarms with his friends, family and fellow patients.”

Oliver was nominated by hospital staff based on his communication skills, leadership, and interest in fire safety. He suffers from a rare condition called hollow visceral myopathy, where his hollow organs do not function properly. His days and nights at the hospital have allowed Oliver and his family to form strong bonds with hospital staff, many of whom watched him receive his Junior Fire Chief honour.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring joy and provide distraction to a well-deserving patient,” said Sandy Baggott, Child Life Lead for the Alberta Children’s Hospital. “This is an exciting event and we are pleased to participate and help promote important initiatives around both fire safety and leadership."

Oliver was also one of the first entries in the Calgary Fire Department’s Smoke Alarm Selfie Contest on The City of Calgary Facebook page, which runs until Sunday, Oct. 16. The winning household will get a visit from fire crews, who will test the home’s smoke alarms, help create a home escape plan and leave behind a swag bag.

Fire Prevention Week was proclaimed in Canada in 1919 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as well as a major fire that destroyed the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa on February 3, 1916. Smoke alarms have been at the centre of Fire Prevention Week for the past three years because they are proven to give residents the best chance of escaping home fires and reducing serious injury.

To learn more about smoke alarms and other Fire Prevention Week events and activities, visit