Firefighters return home from British Columbia
Two Carbonear natives speak on experiences fighting B.C. wildfires
Two men from Carbonear are just back from battling wildfires in British Columbia.
That province put out a call for help this summer as wildfires chewed through timber and foliage and forced evacuation of a number of towns in the province.
Volunteers from Newfoundland and Labrador fire brigades were more than ready to provide help.
Adam Green and Warren Oates were two of the many from this province who put their hands up to help.
Green is a conservation officer, under the provincial government’s Department of Fisheries and Land Resources. As a conservation officer, one of his primary duties is to fight fires.
Oates is a forest ranger based out of Paddy’s Pond. Over the years, he’s taken on a number of roles pertaining to wildlife and the environment. He also has a lengthy career as a volunteer firefighter with the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department.
“I’ve been working as a firefighter for the past seven years in Labrador, and I’ve gone out of province five times now as a firefighter,” Green told The Compass. “Each time I go is a learning experience.
“Fighting fires in your own province is one thing, but there’s a learning curve when it comes to handling them in other provinces, because things are different everywhere you go.”
Oates’ role in British Columbia was as a strike team leader, meaning he was at the forefront of a squad of firefighters tackling certain blazes, keeping the fire under control, and bringing it down to a manageable level.
Oates worked on three separate forest fires during his stint in B.C., one of which he estimated to be approximately half the size of Carbonear.
Despite the obvious stresses of such work, both Green and Oates told The Compass that there are plenty of reasons for their decision to travel to British Columbia, or anywhere else in the world, to help fight fires.
Green said it’s a rewarding learning experience.
“British Columbia was my fifth time leaving the province for it, and each time I come out of it with a little more experience,” he said.
“I did three tours outside of the province this year alone, and that all contributes to the pride I have in what I do. Seeing the Newfoundland brigades out there stacking up and seeing them do just as good a job as any of the other provinces there, that makes me proud of where I come from and who I am.”
Likewise, Oates noted the twists and turns his career has thrown at him, have provided him with a strong sense of pride in his work over the years. Whether it was as a strike team leader, forest ranger, or volunteer firefighter, he said every opportunity he’s been given over the course of his life started from his passion to help others.
“As strike team leader, I found myself more into the management part of things — setting goals and priorities, going over tactics, these sorts of things,” he said of his BC experience this summer.
“More importantly, I’m helping the people I share a country with, and that alone is a great feeling,” Oates said, adding, “If I got a call tomorrow asking me to go back the next day, I’d be all over it. I’d be out the door. It’s not just because of the public safety aspect and it’s not just my sense of helping people, but it also boils down to my sense of adventure.
“I’m a firm believer that we should learn something new every day, and I learned a lot during my time over there those are things I’ll hold dear.”
Warren Oates has been involved in wildlife and environmental services for many years, including a lengthy career as a volunteer firefighter with the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department.
Adam Green (left) and Warren Oates recently spent a couple of weeks helping fight one of British Columbia’s largest wildfires.