Fred Rooymans recently joined a very tight knit brotherhood as a volunteer firefighter at the newly-operational Breslau fire station.
Working in sales for years he was unsatisfied and unfulfilled with his day-to-day tasks, turning to his friends at the Brampton fire department for motivation.
“I grew up with my whole core group of friends being firefighters. Every time I would meet up with these guys they had these great stories and experiences,” said Rooymans. “They got to help people everyday and it was inspirational to be around them and last year I found myself at a crossroads and my friend encouraged me to take the leap, telling me now is the time to do it.”
At the age of 32, Rooymans was accepted to the Ontario Fire Academy and had a placement at the Texas A&M south campus where he graduated as an American professional firefighter.
Shortly after graduation Rooymans was offered a position at the Breslau station and started work as a sales representative for Dival Canada, where he sells fire equipment to all the departments in Ontario, with Woolwich Township being one of his biggest clients.
Near the end of August, Rooymans will be travelling to New York with the Brampton Firefighter Lacrosse Club representing Woolwich at the World Police and Fire Games. The lacrosse team is made up of professional firefighters from all over Ontario.
The World Police & Fire Games is currently the second largest multi-sport event in the world, surpassed only by the Summer Olympics. This year the games coincide with the 10-year memorial of September 11, 2001.
Two overall themes will be a part of the games this year, including remembering those who lost their lives on 9-11, and gratitude as New Yorkers thank the world for the support that flooded into their city after the terrorist attacks.
“It will definitely be an emotional time for some,” said Rooymans. “I believe that we will have a few vigils throughout the two weeks and I know they are having a presentation on the last day that will be very powerful.”
Rooymans will be heading to NYC for the opening ceremonies to take part in the athlete parade with seven of his teammates.
“I am pretty excited to be going to the games, it’s a huge event and I am looking forward to not only competing but watching the other events over the two weeks,” he said. “It’s treated a lot like the Olympics, we have an athlete’s village, events are held everyday and I have heard it is an incredible experience.”
Rooymans lived in New York and played field lacrosse for two years. As such, these games are a little like a homecoming.
“I have some relatives that live on Long Island and I am hoping that they can come out and come see us play a few games,” said Rooymans. “It will be great to be back in New York City again, I am very excited to be a part of it all.”
Playing against clubs from all over the world, Rooymans, who also helps manage the team, says he expects the squad to perform very well.
“I think we are a contender. I want to be positive – the team we have assembled are a great group of athletes along with a few pro players as well. We have the captain of the Boston Blazers, a professional lacrosse team, Dan Dawson on our team; we have some great players out of Toronto
and have one import from Australia.”
This year boasts to be the biggest games to date, with more than 15,000 athletes competing in some 65 sporting events.
The games may be coming to Ontario soon as delegations from Toronto and Ottawa bid to host the games in 2017.