(1:56:01) Not because of the way things have gone (Andy does not miss being a warden). I’m just glad I was there, when I was there. Like I say, when I started I didn’t intend to make a career of it. It was a challenge after a challenge. Things (now) are just changing so much. I got there just at the time, Walter came in and started the mountain rescue stuff. Bert Pittaway was ex-military. He was largely responsible for Cuthead School. He was all for these Schools and getting these schools going.

(1:56:56) Bob Hand informed me that he was sending me up to Fort Smith on a fire contract. Every summer usually two wardens were sent up. This had been going on and going on. Bob came out and told me that basically it was my turn. I was going. I thought it was time that somebody told him no…Parks sending wardens up was just becoming routine. (He said) “No we are committed. We are sending you up and you have to go.” I said, “No I am not going.” He said, “Well that is an order.” I said, “I know it is an order and I am not going.” So, Harry Dempster was the Superintendent and Harry had everybody just terrified of him. Harry had a very screechy voice and when he started chewing somebody out they knew that they were being chewed out! The whole staff at the Administration Building knew! They just ducked when they saw that Harry was coming. Bob had me (summoned) before Harry and Harry said, “What? You are ordered to go up, you go up! That is all there is to it. I am not interested in any of your excuses or reasons for not going. You are going up and that is it.” I said, “No, it’s become a routine thing sending guys up there (and there is no reason for it).” He came over his desk and he’s got his nose about two inches from mine and he says, “When you are told to go, you are God dam well going and there is nothing that you can do about it!” He said, “You just get home and get packed and get up there!” He ended up saying “And there is no choice!” I said, “Yes there is a choice.” He said, “What the hell is the reason why you are so against it?” I said, “I’ll tell you one good reason. Last year, Jack Woledge got sent up there and they made him a cook at the camp. He never left camp all the time that he was up there.” I said, “They aren’t sending out for fire bosses. They aren’t sending out even for section bosses or crew bosses or anything. They are not looking for anything like that at all. They are just bodies up there and it has just become a routine thing that every year when they have their fires they send down to the Parks for wardens. That to me means that we are over staffed and they are understaffed. If that is the message that we are sending, I am surprised that somebody hasn’t caught on to that.” He turned around to Bob Hand and he says, “What’s this about Woledge?” Bob said, “Jack didn’t tell me about it.” I said, “Well, I guess Jack was embarrassed.” He turned around and he said, “Just wait.” He got on the phone, and when he was off, he said, “I want you to go up. You are going up as a Fire Boss. You go on fires up there and that is it. There is not to be any nonsense and this is the last time.”

(2:00:56) It turned out to be very funny because two years previous they had a big scandal up there in Fort Smith. Relatives were on the payroll and retirees and this sort of stuff. Equipment had disappeared. They sent George Balding up to investigate. He was a big man and he was very self assured. He made his presence known sort of thing…Mysteriously the day he arrived, there was a fire in the office and everything got burnt…He did a lot of checking around. He put the fear of God into them! When they got word that I was coming in and I would be a Fire Boss…they almost had a carpet rolled out for me! I get off the plane, they had a vehicle there for me, and they got the best hotel room for me. They said ‘We don’t have a fire for you right now, but they spring up all the time.” Such royal treatment! And I am trying to figure this out, what had gone on between (Harry) Dempster and Ottawa…So there was a gal in the office and I asked her out for supper. She was kind of like Moe (Vroom the dispatcher at the Banff warden Office). She knew everything in the office. So we went out and had supper. We got along fine. (She said) that when I came they thought I was another one (like George Balding). It ended up they put me on this little fire that took us about ten days, I think it was, and we had the thing out, all checked and it was finished. Weather favored us and a few things as well. I had a helicopter there…that they wouldn’t normally put on a small fire like that. At any rate I had the fire out and I came back in and they had my ticket for me to send me home. When I got home and I had only been gone a couple of weeks…Bob Hand came tearing out to Minnewanka and he said, “What the hell did you do? Did you quit up there?” I said, “No, no, no I flew in, I put out the fire and that was it. Just routine Bob, just routine!”

(2:04:39) That was one time. The other time (Andy challenged the powers that be) was when, Geoff Palmer was a helicopter pilot working under Jim. This was when we were beginning to use helicopters…His flying ability was excellent. He was really a good, top flyer, but he had this dare devil attitude and he was also very careless with equipment. There were quite a few stupid stunts that he did that were really dangerous. I got a hold of Jim and Jim agreed that he should go…The boss came down and we laid out some of the stuff to him. He was already suspicious because three of the machines that he had flown actually when they came in for their checkups were damaged and the only connection was him. At any rate, we ended up firing him. Sometime later, the contract came up for renewal. Jim and Peter Fuhrmann were the ones who initiated and got this sling technique going, mostly Jim, it was his idea. Anyhow, it ended up that goes to another outfit, told them how much the bid was (and all the required information) and they underbid it and they got the contract. Not only that, it was a Quebec based outfit. Which I didn’t know at the time, but I found out about it later. Anyhow, when I found out this was where the contract was and Palmer was part of it, I just said, “No, I am not accepting it.” Well…it caused a big kerfuffle and ended up in Ottawa. Peter and I got called up into the Superintendent’s office… and the Deputy Minister was there he was another one who was just blustering and his word was law and that’s it! I said, “No, they can hire a different pilot, well take him. But we are not taking them with the pilot they got. If they put a different pilot on we will test him” He said, “Andy you are not qualified to test pilots, you are not a pilot.” I said, “It doesn’t matter, hanging underneath a helicopter is a very exacting science. We make dam sure that everybody knows what they are doing…and that they are well trained, and that they able to do it, and that includes the pilot. Mostly the pilot.” It ended up he said “Well, you’re fired!” I said, ‘Well, if I am fired, I’m fired. I’m not putting them the wardens in an unsafe position.” So Peter Fuhrmann speaks up and he says, “Well, I’m the same.”…He said, “You’re fired too!” The Superintendent speaks up and like I say he never backed us on anything. He speaks up and he says, “Well you may as well put me on that list too. Fire me too!” We waited all day to see (what would happen) and the next morning they phoned up and said, they were cancelling the contract. That was the second time; I got fired…they had a system of doing this and you can’t go around it. I said, “I don’t care about all that.” “You’re fired! You’re fired!” Actually he fired me twice. He had already fired me!

(2:11:08) Incidentally another story that should be corrected, it was Jim (Davies) and Peter (Fuhrmann) that started that thing (rescue slinging under the helicopter). Kathy (Calvert co-author of Guardians of the Wild) got that… the time sequence and everything a little mixed up. That story about Billy Vroom coming down Main Street underneath the helicopter and Steve Kun you know discovering it, is not quite correct. It did happen, but Steve Kun already knew about it…I knew about it. We all knew about it. We had to do all our testing without any approval from the Department of Transport because until we had it set up and working pretty foolproof we knew we wouldn’t get any approval from them. They were just dead against tying anything to a machine…At any rate Steve knew about it. I knew about it. We had all been working on that thing for some time before that happened. Actually at the time it happened we were doing some training with the wardens flying underneath. We had rigged up between them that they would make a flight down the main street to show all the Banff citizens the technique. I got chewed out and Peter got chewed out over that by Steve, but it didn’t happen quite the way that she told it. Actually the approval of the thing was underway too. They already had the guy out (from the Department of Transportation), in fact he was in my office…Peter took him down to show him how unsafe rescue work was in the Rockies because of the rotten rock here. It’s a lot more dangerous actually than a lot of the stuff in Yosemite and places like that. At any rate that guy was very good and had common sense. If we had gotten anybody else I think that we would have really had trouble getting that thing approved…