250 News - Your News, Your Views, Now

October 27, 2017 4:16 pm

Mexico and U.S. to Help Fight B.C. Wildfires

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 @ 12:42 PM

Prince George, B.C. – The BC Wildfire Service has announced some much-needed help is on the way to help fight this province’s wildfires.

It will come in the form of firefighting resources from the United States and Mexico.

“One hundred and eight wildfire personnel from Mexico will arrive this week and are expected to be deployed to wildfires in the Interior on Friday,” says the BC Wildfire Service. “This is the first-time Mexican personnel have assisted B.C., although they have been employed many times by the Province of Alberta.”

This in addition to the 27 firefighters from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan who were brought into B.C. as part of crews from Ontario that arrived this weekend.

All personnel are trained to the standards of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. The cost of bringing in international help will be covered by the B.C. government.

“Hot and dry conditions have kept a persistently high fire danger rating throughout B.C.,” adds the BC Wildfire Service. “Firefighting crews are on standby in all six of B.C.’s fire centres in preparation for an anticipated increase in fire starts over the next few days due to unsettled weather in the forecast, which may bring lightning.”

If you see a wildfire you are asked to call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.


I wonder how many Mexican fire fighters will claim refugee status or some other immigration ploy to stay here when their work is done?

Jesus Christ Islandbound. They are Mexican not Cuban. What a strange racist comment for you to make

    Not too sure why you found that offensive! Have you not heard about the illegal immigration from Mexico to the US! Trump wants to build a wall separating the two countries just for that reason for crying out loud!! IMO, nothing racist about that.


      The comment is grossly offensive because these people are voluntarily coming to BC to fight the fires in our forests at the risk of their lives. Yet all Islandbound can think to say is to spout a grossly offensive insulting stereotype. A simple, “Thank you, guy” would have been more appropriate.

      ammonra, You consider a Mexican fire righter”A grossly offensive insulting stereotype”?
      You’re a tool ammonra.

      You are an idiot Islandbound. The stereotype was thatMexicans would want to “claim refugee status or some other immigration ploy”, as you so nastily put it, once in Canada. That is a clear and obvious negative stereotype as you well know and as you fully intended to convey. If objecting to that kind of sewage makes me a tool, then a tool I am. Some of mankinds most wonderful inventions, tools. I’m proud to be linked with them.

      Actually you are the idiot. And yes you are indeed a tool. A toilet plunger to be exact. Why don’t you grow up and troll somewhere else?

    You need a hug from your mommy vn.

    They are Mexican not Cuban. Thats a racist comment right?

      I guess so! May be by next year, there will be some politically correct word for “Canadian” because we are so diversified now days

    Nothing racist about Islandbound’s comment Vickingnuck. This is the problem nowadays, the term racist is thrown around so much it has lost it’s meaning. If Islandbound had used a derogatory term commonly used to describe a Mexican then I could maybe agree with you but Mexican firefighter is hardly a racist term. Besides, are you saying Cuban firefighters would claim refugee status?

If they want to stay let them! They’re bringing a usable skill.

I feel the same as islandbound about them wanting to stay….is there no firefighters from other provinces that we could bring in instead of using foreign temporary workers…and as far as being racist people are just too touchy feely these days and those are the words of the northern bullying and harassment worksafe bc rep…

    You really need to brush up on interprovincial help

    All provinces have an interprovincial help mandate and will provide people as they can but that depends on how busy they are and how many personnel they can provide they can also recall personnel at any given moment

    As of right now several hundred personnel from Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec are here fighting fires but several other provinces cannot send personnel due to the requirement of maintaining their minimal standards

    All international forest agencies have to meet Canadian and provincial fire fighting standards before being allowed on the fire lines that is why Austrailia, US and Mexico are able to send fire fighters as they are trained to our standandards

    Using private citizens is a last resort as putting untrained personnel in the field is not desirable as most people would get themselves killed or hurt or others killed or hurt because they don’t know what they are doing

Alone amongst a sea of rednecks . . .

    True, I have been lonely over the years arguing with so many like you!

Who the hell would want to stay in a hillbilly redneck outback like PG.

    you do f150?

It’s kinda funny. Paying people from other countries to fight fires when we have a 10% unemployment rate and thousands on welfare.

    With your inability to think very deeply why in the hell would you put an untrained people in the line of fire when you have trained, certified firefighters who know what they are doing and don’t need a person looking over your shoulder to see if you are doing things right

    It’s like giving a guy a gun and a badge now go be a cop doesn’t work too well

      This idea of having to have absolute trained professionals on all facets of the fire is in my opinion goofy. Unless you are a RAPP fire fighter, your training took 7 to 10 days. Comparing a guy with a shovel as part of a work crew with a cop with a gun is just plain dumb and I believe you are the one with the inability to think deeply.
      We have created a society of professionals that can’t get it all done, can’t do it on budget and can’t do anything else outside their professional status all in the name of liability.

      I am a trained and certified forest fire fighter and fought fires for 14 years and even though I am trained I haven’t been on the fire line in 22 yrs I know I can’t do half the stuff this generation does not to mention i would need retraining on what to do

      Instead of spouting your mouth off why don’t you go on the fire line yourself and see what it takes to be on the line I know what it takes I also know what you need and I damn sure as hell wouldn’t want an untrained fire fighter on the line but then again you probably wouldn’t last a day on the line it’s not rocket science but you require stamina, a cool head, be able to pull several hundred feet of charged fire hose up or down hills and work in stifling heat near open flames for extended periods of time in fire retardant gear while carrying up to 60 lbs of gear around with you

      Let’s see you do that then maybe I’ll listen to your whining and ranting

      I know crews from other provinces and countries are not mop up crews, but if we had more people in the mop up stages it does free up the front line crews to hit the 10 new fires a day we are having. Then as these people grow in experience they can do more, much like an apprentice mechanic, electrician or plumber.

      PGguy 1234 just got spanked by Dearth. That was pretty good stuff. It’s all well and good to criticise until you actually say it to a guy that’s been a firefighter for over a decade. After that retort by Dearth, crickets….

      we already have lots of those

    Well, next time you need surgery get one of the unemployed to do it. Avoid foreign doctors.

      If he/she is an unemployed doctor no sweat, don’t think they are talking about putting the 4 guys who walk around town pushing shopping carts back and forth between Spruceland and Pine Centre on a front line crew. But firefighters gotta start somewhere doing something, mop up doesn’t require your top crew but is a good training ground for recruits. Some days 40 fires are extinguished, lots of mop up work out there right now.

      Please compare apples with apples. I heard of loggers and contractors who make their living in the same forests that are burning not being allowed to help with the fires. Simply stupid in my opinion. Comparing a surgeon to a guy with a shovel is dumb. You don’t study for 8 or 9 years to grunt out a forest fire line.

      Quite true, but you don’t put untrained people into a dangerous situation, like a forest fire, either.

For Pete’s sake people.

I for one and probably the majority of British Columbians say what the Hell are you people complaining about now! We need to get the fires under control. These are qualified men and woman from outside of BC that are risking their lives for ours. Get a life.

Why the dickens would you worry about them wanting to stay. If they have the courage to do what they can do, I would have no qualms if they wanted to stay and be productive citizens of our country. I would welcome them as a neighbour or friend. Sheesh! A heck of alot better then some we have now using the systems.

We as Canadians need the help. I am ashamed as a British COlumbian/Canadian at some of you for your comments about someone you know nothing about. To me they are professionals at their job – the reason they are coming.

Get the fires under control. Every member of these fire teams are checked out internationally before they can even be on the fire teams.

Please get yourself informed and read Dearth’s post.

    Who the hell would want to live here instead of Mexico?? I mean we all migrate from this country come winter and spend our time in warmer climes anyhow.

Then how about some of you starting some action to your levels of government to get more training? Will any of you do it? Volunteers are hard to find in this type of work.

PGguy1234 How many of the 10% you are talking about actually want to work or could do this type of work??

    In the 1980s they had a similar fire year and Forestry was grabbing people from Parkwood down the main aisle. They even stopped us on the side of the road in Ness Lake to fight a small fire and after that we then spent a month lined up at the Forestry Office at 15th and Victoria waiting for a call out, fought on the Vama Vama Creek fire back that year too (or maybe the next year) and rap attack on a heli crew up Torpy Mountain which was an experience. Anyways been in the bush since then – until I got sick of the 18 hour days and “retired” from that.

    A quick S-100 will take 20 minutes class time and not much more is needed for mop up. Once these people are trained for a bit give them more advanced roles. Sometimes people need a little leg up and then we have people for future fires as well. Sure they will probably never be a initial attack crew but not everyone out there is.

      Fully agree with your statement.

      I agree with you. Back in the 80’s there was also a different mentality on what work was. Never mind respect and ethics of work. Now one is hard pressed to find the same type of thinking such as how far one had to walk in the snow to get to school. lol

      The crews from Mexico etc. are not mop up crews.

      There has been a surplus over the years already trained in the north for the S-100 not just for forest fire fighting but for mining and many other industries.

      PGNAETA, Kopar and the other agencies have helped pay for a lot more than a few hundred people in the north. Problem is getting a lot of them to work. A lot of people also will not do the work as they need full time jobs to pay the bills all year around.

    If you cut off the free money and provide training, you’ll never know until you try. Not to mention learning a new skill and based on more and more fires every season, I think it’s a trade in a growing industry.

      One major problem with the training system and certification is there is no provincial database on who actually has the S-100. The only people who know are the instructors and the students. That is it. The only time that information is let out that a person has an S-100 is if there was an incident No one else has access to these lists unless there may be a WorkSafeBC investigation of some type.

      Maybe it is time to change the system and whomever has the training gets called out and it would first start with the people who are not working?

What about acknowledging the Australians as international help as well, since they have been here lending a hand for a few weeks? They also aided BC in 2014 when the fires were bad that year too. Kudos to the Australians for traveling halfway around the world to help us out!

    Maybe we should worry about the Aussies not leaving . Imagine those people with one hat brim turned up running around PG .

      Hahaha….. :)

      totally true songgoddess. do you know why nobody is worried about the Aussies, or is critsizing their role here? because they’re white! if people can’t see that worries about the Mexican firefighters are absolutely rooted in racism, holy cow, you couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I’d simply say thanks for coming up, stay safe. if you actually like it here, despite people like islandbound, go through the proper channels and stay. they obviously have valuable skills that benefit our province. I just can’t believe the people on this site sometimes, but I don’t know what I should expect on an internet forum. I don’t even know why I respond once in a while. Why are any of us here? don’t we have anything better to do on a beautiful day?!

I appreciate the fact that there are other fire fighters coming in from other parts to help out. These trained professionals are needed in order to give our boys the rest they need before getting back to the fight. My comments are based on the fact that all facets of the forest fighting industry have become professional when I feel that there is a place for less-then professionally trained labour to operate and help out. We need bigger bombers, more fixed wing high capacity aircraft and more crews ready as this is going to become the norm.

It is really nice to see other countries wanting to come here to help fight fires, really nice gestures

S100 is a two day course needing annual re certification. I believe CNC offererd one session for free at the beginning of the wildfires this year. Usually costs $250. Keep in mind you have to be in decent physical shape and health to fight fires. Last thing you want is someone with asthma or high blood pressure on a fireline.

Nice to see they are coming to help … getting them here a couple of weeks ago would have been nice as well.

Mexican, USA, and Canadian firefighters are all on the payroll. They get paid for what they do. There (at this time) is no such thing as a volunteer fire fighter. In fact they will not allow you on the fire line unless you have the (so called) training.

I think that BC has somewhere in the area of 1000 trained fighters, and perhaps 3000 others fighting ie; planes, helicopters, ground crews, etc; etc;.

So we ran out of trained fighters, hence the need for fighters from Mexico, USA, Austrailia, etc;

Every small town and city in the Interior of BC should have trained people to fight fires. It borders on insanity to have thousands of people unable to work at their jobs, and forced out of their homes, sitting idly by while people from foreign Countries fight our fires. Our whole fire fighting strategy is based on contracted equipment to those who own helicopters, planes, heavy machinery, etc; and of course we pay for so called professionals to fight the fires.

Perhaps someone could tell us how we fought these fires for the past 100 years before we had **professionals**.

Fires were fought with men who worked in the mills in the area where the fire was. People were taken out of the bars, their cars, and any other place they could be recruited and put of the fire line.

Don’t buy into the BS that these so called volunteers lost their lives fighting fires, because to the best of my knowledge it never happened, and if it did it was very rare.

We are very fast and loose with the term professional. As an example back in the day a person with a grade 13 education could teach grades one to five. Now they need to have 5 years university and are called professionals.

There is a set way to fight fires, ie; water, breaks, back burning, etc; etc; and people have known this for a hundred years.

Lets stop pretending that fighting fires is something new and complicated. Its not. Whats new is the people fighting the fires. Most of the people who have the real experience have passed on, and we are being run by a bunch of **green horns**.

    Many of the fires years ago were left to burn themselves out. I have clear knowledge of this when growing up and when I moved closer to the Yukon way back when. :) Our population in this province has almost doubled since those days.

    These **green horns** were trained by their peers ie the ones who have passed on. The peers are the old ones that insisted to have everyone certified – not the **green horns**.

    Even today there are a lot of young people that tried to step up to the plate as the “old timers” did but hit up against the problem they have caused by making every job be certified or so called professional.

    CNC would not put on anymore courses. Why not? the only available courses through them, were the ones that was recently held a week or so ago in PG and the other in Burns Lake. They were full and many of the healthy able bodied evacuees felt even more helpless they couldn’t help with the fires.

    I truly hope these **green horns** will have a chance to change an old system that has flaws like anything else. To much of an old boys system and where the power lies maybe?

Comments for this article are closed.