CALGARY- Over the past year, an Alberta firefighter has enjoyed a taste of fame thanks to his heroic efforts during the June 2013 flood. But what many people don’t know is that Shawn Wiebe has a twin brother—who just so happens to also be a firefighter.
Shawn and Ryan Wiebe grew up in Calgary, but moved south and settled in Nanton and High River respectively. Along with their looks, they share a passion for helping others, which prompted them both to become volunteer firefighters.
When the floods hit last June, the twins rushed into action.
“It’s surprising how fast it came in, it just blows my mind,” Shawn remembers.
“I had never seen that much water,” Ryan adds.
The pair were working in different quadrants of High River, causing some evacuees to see double.
“There was a lady that I had loaded on the helicopter…who was unloaded by Shawn,” Ryan laughs. “And she stopped, and she looked at him, looked down the street, looked at him again, and is like ‘OK, this is really weird.!’”
During that long first day, Shawn unknowingly became the face of the flood when he carried a woman to safety, leading her to proclaim, “the last time I was carried like this was on my wedding night!” The resulting laughter was captured by a news photographer, and the picture quickly went viral. Shawn was soon known as the ‘ridiculously photogenic firefighter’—but his brother doesn’t hold a grudge.
“With that photo everybody was like was that you? I said no, that’s my twin brother. I am proud to say it was him, I’m just famous by association.”
Despite working in the same flood-ravaged town, the Wiebes didn’t see each other for days.
“For a week I hadn’t seen him or talked to him because of the phone lines being down, and it just being so jammed,” Shawn remembers. “You get that sixth sense, I knew everything was OK…it was a relief to finally see him again.”
For his part, Ryan says it’s an experience he and his brother will remember forever.
“It definitely did get us closer.”
WATCH: Nanton firefighter Shawn Wiebe joins Global Calgary to reflect on his experience during the 2013 flood.