Gone are the days of smokers in the firehall and water rescue capability being a herring skip.
Richmond Fire Rescue, and firefighting across the board, has changed dramatically in the last 15 to 20 years.
Capt. Rich McMillan has borne witness to that transformation, having been a Richmond firefighter for 23 years.
In that time, McMillan has seen the department's water rescue training improve out of sight - a welcome addition given his experience back in 1996, when he plucked a student to safety from the waters off Shady Island. Two of the boy's friends were not so lucky.
Their equipment is more advanced than ever before, but the sheer magnitude of scenarios firefighters find themselves in has also escalated.
Equipment "Much of the equipment (over the last 10 to 15 years) has to do with firefighter safety," said McMillan.
"Our job is inherently dangerous, we get that. But we always try to put safety first.
"When I started, we didn't have high-angle or hazmat capabilities. Now we can do both and have state-of-the-art equipment to tackle both."
Expectations "The city's expectations of us have changed dramatically. They've given us the equipment and they, quite rightly, expect us to use it.
"However, I think the average citizen still doesn't really know what we actually do.
"When we show up for a medical incident, we still get the funny looks, as if to say, 'why are you guys here?' "This is 2013 and we are first responders. We can't administer drugs, but we can keep you alive long enough for the paramedics to get there."
Demographics "The population has exploded since I started in 1990 and I think Richmond definitely gambles with the numbers.
"One of these days, there's going to be multiple major incidents at the same time. It's coming and we're going to have to rely on other cities to help us.
"And at medical calls especially, the language barrier can be an issue. It's a bit like a parent trying to communicate with a child who doesn't speak yet.
Fitness "The culture has changed enormously. Maybe it's a generational thing also, but we now have fitness centres in most halls and we have a health and wellness program.
"When I started, so many guys smoked and you got a funny look if you asked to use the exercise bike."
Public comments When firefighters are seen in public doing anything but fighting fires, they're sometimes questioned.
"I do get the 'don't you have something better to do?' and 'is this what my taxes are going to?" "However, the vast majority of experiences with the public in nonemergency situations have been very, very positive in my career."
© Copyright 2013