“I’ve been a fire fighter for just a few months over five years. The story is partly connected to the military. Back in 2009 I was in Australia and coming to the end of my doctorate. I had put my application into the military to be in the air crew. When it started looking like nothing was going to happen with the airforce, I thought maybe it’s time to think about public service. The structure and camaraderie in the Fire Department appealed to me. It took eighteen months from there, haha! I started on February 7, 2011.
In early 2012 they installed these TV information boards in the fire halls. They had this call to wear the Sparky mascot and I thought “That has me written all over it.” I’ve always been into the cosplay thing - I’ve got a Storm Trooper suit from Star Wars. I practically ran to the computer to apply.
This costume is no ordinary costume. It’s designed by Street Characters. That’s the company started by Glenn Street, the guy who created and wore the original Harvey the Hound for the Calgary Flames. For the 125th anniversary for the Calgary Fire Department, we got permission from the National Fire Protection Association to create our own likeness of Sparky. This is no generic Sparky, this is the Calgary Fire Department Sparky. And coming from Street Characters, this is something special. It’s a privilege to wear this work of art that you can walk around in. You are a walking emblem of the organization you serve, and it’s a part of public service that really makes me happy.
The motto on the back of the fire trucks used to say “Yours for life.” That’s something that’s really meaningful to me.
Kensington has always had a ‘feel’ to it, even back when I was a youngster. As a kid I was aware of it. This neighbourhood may seem like an exclusive place to live or for the wealthy, but it’s inclusive and comfortable. Moving back to Calgary, my focus was on community and people, so this is where I wanted to be. It’s a small town feel. We just knew we wanted to be here. We thought if we could live here, we’d just go for it. When St. John’s on Tenth opened up, we knew it’s where we wanted to live.
Yesterday I went to grab a coffee and saw kids out having a water fight - in April! It’s the essence of what I love about this community. When you have to be on time, you have to avoid certain streets because you have so many friends to greet on the way.” Kyle Rebryna