Above: Alberta Firefighters
The excerpts below are from a Calgary Guardian article featuring an interview with Natalie Romain, a firefighter working for the government of Alberta.
CG: “How long have you been a Wildland Firefighter?”
This is my fourth season. I spent two years as a Helitack Member and one year as a Helitack Leader in the Fort McMurray Wildfire Management Area. This fourth season I am now a Unit Crew Sub-Leader in the Edson Wildfire Management Area.
CG: “How many crews are there in Alberta and where are they stationed?”
We have ten Wildfire Management Areas in Alberta. Across the province there are 64 four-person Helitack Crews, 2 eight-person Helitack Crews, 9 seven-person Rappel Crews, 8 twenty-person Unit Crews, and 35 eight-person Firetack Crews. All the crews are very mobile and can be moved where needed most.
CG: “What are the tools of the trade? Obviously there aren’t any fire hydrants in the forest, so what do you and your crew need to do your jobs effectively?”
Each crew plays a different role. I am on a Unit Crew which normally fight larger wildfires, so our equipment may be different compared to initial attack Helitack Crews. Our trucks are fitted with one mark 3 pump, a pump kit (nozzles, stranglers, fuel line, and random jewelry like quick connects and wyes), suction hose, two 50-gallon Jerry cans and five boxes of 1 ½” hose, which is a total of 2,000 feet. With a good water source, like a river or a creek, we can get to work and get a lot accomplished. Each sub-crew of four carries the exact same equipment layout so multiply this by five just for one unit crew! We also carry chainsaws and hand tools (shovels and pulaskis).
All photos were provided by the Government of Alberta.