Alberta Flood 2013: Catching up with firefighter Shawn Wiebe

CBC catches up to Shawn Wiebe, the firefighter behind one of the most iconic Alberta flood photos from last June. We asked him some questions about how the last year has changed him.

'The ridiculously photogenic firefighter' answers questions about how the last year has changed him

A rescued woman is carried by firefighter Shawn Wiebe out of a flood zone in High River, Alta., on June 20. The flooded Highwood River became extremely dangerous, prompting an evacuation of the town. (Courtesy the Calgary Sun)

Shawn Wiebe's ability to smile while he rescued a woman from the raging floodwaters in High River helped make him the face of last year's flood.

"The ridiculously photogenic firefighter" picture made international headlines.

The Nanton firefighter clearly remembers the day he became an instant celebrity. We ask him how the photo has affected him over the last year.

Q: Why are you smiling in the photo?

I'm always a happy guy, doesn't matter the situation — I have a smile on my face. As I picked up Sheila from the boat, I gave her a reassuring smile to let her know that everything was going to be OK.

Q: What did she say to you?

What she said to me as I was carrying her to dry ground was "the last time I was carried like this was on my wedding night." And if you've seen the other photos with the huge smile, that is where it came from. As the weeks went on after the flood, I got the chance to finally meet up with her. We have now became pretty good friends.

Q: You became this iconic image of the firefighter hero. How do you feel about that?

At first it was very overwhelming, but as I did a few interviews with the media I became comfortable with label of "the ridiculously photogenic firefighter."

Q: What is the strangest thing that's happened as a result of your story going viral?

I think the strangest thing so far is going from a normal person from a small town to having people recognize me wherever I go and now having people asking for an autograph.

Q: The slogan on your twitter feed is: "A smile is worth a thousand words and is the best way to show you care." How do you use your #keeponsmiling slogan in your life as a firefighter?

As a firefighter I have vowed to help people. There are times in an emergency situation where giving a smile tends to calm a person down, as my slogan says, "it shows you care." And it takes less muscles to make a smile than a frown. 

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