By KENDALL KING on September 3, 2022.
Medicine Hat firefighters will be the focus of an upcoming eight-part documentary series produced by German multi-media company Fabiola. Filming for the series, set to air on Germany’s Discovery Channel at an undetermined future date, is scheduled to begin Saturday and continue through the month, then break and pick up again in mid-January.
Titled “Alberta Alert,” the series aims to showcase everyday lives of North American firefighters, on and off call.
Medicine Hat’s Fire and Emergency Services was first contacted by Fabiola in March, and asked to be part of the project. Why Medicine Hat’s firefighters, specifically, were approached is largely thanks to senior firefighter and German expatriate Rene Grigat’s involvement in the service.
Grigat, a 10-year veteran of Medicine Hat Fire and Emergency Services, had previously served in the German armed forces in a position with considerable media exposure.
“When I left the armed forces to emigrate to Canada to be with my Canadian wife and start a career as a firefighter here … the local newspaper in Germany wrote an article something like ‘Canadian fire department welcomes German major,” Grigat told the News. “This article was printed and the German production company … found that article and then they wrote a text message on our union’s Facebook page and requested to get in contact with me. And that’s how it all started.”
Grigat says he agreed to be part of the project as he felt it a good opportunity to showcase Medicine Hat, increase viewer knowledge about firefighters, as well as share part of his life with family members who remain in Germany.
“I think that after seeing the series, probably all my friends and family will understand why I made the decision to emigrate to another country,” said Grigat. “And I think, if (viewers) can see that the firefighters in Medicine Hat are just a bunch of good people that tried to help everybody out in the community, that will be a great win for everybody.”
Fire chief Brian Stauth also feels the series will provide insight into the work firefighters do.
“On behalf of the Medicine Hat firefighters, we are honoured to have been asked to be part of Alberta Alert,” Stauth said. “It’s really an exciting opportunity to showcase how we work and how we ensure the safety of the people that live, work and visit Medicine Hat.
“There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that viewers absolutely would not see normally, (like) the emotional fallout after a difficult call (or) some of the practical jokes that our staff play on each other which is part of that team building process that occurs here.”
Fluent in German, Grigat will act as the series’ host, explaining to viewers technical aspects of the job and other information, however he will be joined by his colleagues from stations No. 1 and 2, including fire investigators, training personnel, etc.