250 News - Your News, Your Views, Now

October 27, 2017 4:30 pm

‘It’s Hard Long Days but That’s Why We’re Here:’ BC Wildfire Service

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 5:50 AM

Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service

Williams Lake, B.C. – Ever wonder what it’s like to work with the BC Wildfire Service during one of the most active wildfire seasons in British Columbia history?

Predictably, fire information officer Melinda Paplawski, who’s based in Williams Lake, says it starts with long work-days.

“Basically, they wake up in the morning, head out, take a bag lunch, come back, eat dinner, shower, go to sleep and do it again.”

She says they stay in camps (commonly in tents where showers are also provided) and notes the number of hours worked each day varies depending on what they’re assigned to, but says many work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

“But it is mandated by WorkSafeBC to ensure rest periods in between those shifts,” says Paplawski, who adds the typical work rotation is 14 days straight.

“If there’s extenuating circumstances they can ex tend it a bit but they try not to go over 14 days,” she says. “So, after 14 days there’s a mandatory rest period. Some stay in camp or they can also head up to Prince George or down to Kamloops.”

Paplawski says this is where help from out of province and country helps.

“It allows more rest time for crews and some fresh feet on the ground ready to work.”

She says duties range from working on initial attack crews to building fire guards, cleaning up trees when they’ve been knocked down and more.

“And then of course there’s all the other jobs that go on as for as planning and operations and logistics and even warehouse people making sure that everyone’s got their hoses going. It’s a big operation.”

Paplawski adds what’s made this year especially challenging is the number of interface fires (fires that threaten structures and communities) they’re battling.

“Which makes for a lot of questions regarding priorities and do you have manpower to respond to one thing,” she says. “It’s multiple fires, multiple communities, lots of rural residents as opposed to just fighting one big fire.”

She estimates there are hundreds of staff stretched throughout the region – from 100 Mile House through to Quesnel.

So, what keeps them going?

“Everyone is in it to work – working together and supportive of each other. It’s hard work and long days but that’s what we’re here for.”


So why isn’t the military involved?

    It’s been at least 10 days now since the military was first involved. They’re not trained as front line fire fighters so don’t expect boots on the ground fighting the fires.

    Surprised you’re not demanding the Mars Bomber…

      Not trying to be a smartass, I was asking a simple question, not ‘demanding’ anything! I could not find any info on the military involvement! As for the Mars bomber I know it’s limitations in the terrain around here. The only thing I demand is that Hoagie Bun has an election, as he didn’t win fair and square! LOL

      I think the Military are basing out of Kelowna, they’ve got a Griffon and Chinook for evacs. They have been assisting west of Williams Lake.
      Mars would be nice, but the only one available I believe is down for maintenance, not available til August. Saw one of those 500 ft. up doing 40 mph over Gibson’s years ago hitting a fire on Elphinstone, they are HUGE!, but yeah different terrain.These new super scoopers are something to watch, saw them out at the airport the other day. They’re CL 215 or 415’s.

Build a bridge and get over it big boy.

Comments for this article are closed.