Annapolis Valley Register

Firefighte­rs get ‘er done when the chips are down


The past week was a rollercoas­ter ride, but residents of Southwest Nova learned a few things along the way. Top of the list is that if the wildfires that have raged across the region and up in Pictou County were some kind of test, volunteer firefighte­rs passed in flying colours. In fact, they went above and beyond.

But we shouldn’t be surprised they were up to the challenge because most department­s train at least every Wednesday night and it’s some serious stuff – life and death.

On top of their skills and abilities, they have dedication and stamina. There were days it was more than 30C and they were in coveralls and big boots for up to eight hours depending what they were doing and how they got switch out. Bridgetown Fire Chief Randy Sheridan said hydration was key – and rotating crews in and out.

Communitie­s also passed muster in the past week with individual­s, groups, organizati­ons, and businesses chipping in with water, Gator Aid, snacks, meals, pies, sandwiches, good wishes, and prayers for rain. It was like everything else stopped, people held their collective breaths, and those fires and firefighte­rs were all that mattered or existed.

And firefighte­rs wouldn’t be able to fight the fires if their employers didn’t let them have the time off.

The provincial government also played a major role with the department­s of Transporta­tion and Infrastruc­ture Renewal and Natural Resources leading the charge. It seems amazing how fast those two department­s got in gear, founded the manpower and resources, got on site and started tackling the flames.

Imposing bans on travel into the woods, industrial activity, and campfires may have come a little late, but even so it may have prevented addition wildfires. About the only negative for the past two weeks – besides the fires – has been those ignoring the bans and putting lives and property in danger. The rest of the population wonders how those few people could be so uninformed – or possibly so stupid.

There are a few questions people may have in the backs of their minds. Why don’t we have our own water bombers? Didn’t there used to be fire towers? Should volunteer firefighte­rs become true brothers and sisters of other first responders -- like police and paramedics – instead of poor second cousins. And how did the fires start? That’s a haunting question. And one that needs to be addressed.

But those things can wait. It’s about firefighte­rs this week.

What trained and dedicated men and women can do when the chips are down is truly staggering.

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