Responders Drill for Forest Fire Season

It’s going to be a dry summer. Years of drought conditions in Alberta, Canada and low levels of rain could create an unprecedented forest fire season.

In an article on the Calgary Herald website, Jennifer Fong says the province’s wildfire crews are gearing up for a busy season. “Already, 307 fires have been recorded in Alberta’s forest protection area this year,” she writes. That’s more than twice the five-year average of 122. But responders are ready and enthusiastic.

Helitack rappel recruits at the Hinton Training Centre undergo four weeks of intensive training. Their days start at 6 a.m. with a 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) run and consist of live rappels from helicopters and scaling down towers. Members prepare for dangerous situations, from bear encounters to tangled ropes, says the article.

Once on the ground, Fong writes, members must find a body of water – which will be more challenging this year – set up a pump, then drag hundreds of meters of hose back to the blaze. As grueling as the training can be, members love it. Twenty-six-year-old Rob Phillips says it’s an adrenaline rush and compares the job to summer camp.

To read the Calgary Herald article, click here: