Practice Makes Perfect!
After a long and cold winter, everyone on the Edson Unit Crew has been counting down the days to the start of the wildfire season. Generally, Unit Crews work on larger, sustained action fires. We are also tasked with a wide range of other duties though, including being used as an initial action resource on wildfires, working on FireSmart projects around communities, or even helping with prescribed burns as a form of hazard reduction within the district.
This spring has started off quite differently compared to last year’s early start. A year ago, our crew was extremely busy on Initial Attack fighting wildfires and ultimately having our training and skills put to the test fighting the Fort McMurray wildfire.
With the large amounts of snowfall we received over the winter this year, our focus so far this season is on training and refining our techniques to better ourselves and be ready for anything that comes our way.
I was lucky enough to help with the training process this year in Hinton. I was a mentor during an annual leaders training course that is held at the Hinton Training Centre. The course is eight days of classroom sessions and field training labs. On top of that, we start every day at 6 a.m. with an hour of grueling morning fitness. It’s a blast!
The course is designed to prepare members to become leaders of their wildfire crews. My role was to help draw on real life wildfire experience as a way to relate the teachings to practical life situations on the fireline. It was awesome to see so many individuals who are so passionate about fighting wildfire. I loved being able to assist in their learning and development throughout the course.
I learned a lot of lessons from the course and once it was finished, I joined up with my crew to get ready for the wildfire season. I was able to teach my crew some new things and apply everything I had learned in Hinton.
Like I mentioned earlier, we received quite a bit of snowfall early on in the season. That ended up giving me an abundance of time to train with my crew. It was pretty funny watching the guys slip and slide around in the snow during pump and hose practices, while spraying snow piles instead of fire gave everyone a good laugh (with a couple of snowballs being thrown here and there!)
One day, the crew was off to do some training – we were driving down a logging road far from any homes and we stumbled upon a puppy. We couldn’t seem to find any owners anywhere, so our crew decided to drive him down to the SPCA in town. It turns out the owners had lost their puppy and were beyond ecstatic when they found out he was found safe and sound!
Crews within our district were doing their own preparation to get ready for the wildfire season, but our office put together a boot camp for all Helitack and Unit crews to go through together. This boot camp was three days packed with training, learning and collaboration between one another, with some great laughs along the way.
Even though there are not a lot of wildfires across the province to start the season, we are keeping busy by constantly improving ourselves and our crews.
We’ll be ready for whatever the 2017 wildfire season has in store for us!