Alberta Wildland Firefighter Adventures – One Busy Summer!

Erica & Glen waiting for helicopter pick up after a long day on the fireline!

Ryan and Devon waiting for a ride too!

Ryan and Devon waiting for a ride too!

As I write this blog entry from the truck en route to the High Level wildfire management area, I am realizing it is August…wow where did this summer go! The last month has been a busy one for the Edson Unit Crew. Last shift was spent working three wildfires in the Edson wildfire management area (EWMA) then working the end of our shift on a wildfire in the Grande Prairie wildfire management area. A total of four wildfires! It was a pretty exciting shift and we got to do a wide range of wildland firefighting work.

Our first two wildfires in our home area of Edson were approximately 150 hectares in size. Terrain was challenging at times and it didn’t help that we had to carry and shuffle gear through the rolling hills of the EWMA!

Wildfire burning in rolling hills of the Edson Area

Wildfire burning in rolling hills of the Edson Area

Hagglund

Hagglund

While fighting wildfires, we use all sorts of equipment to help us get around. Sometimes we use helicopters to bump us in. Sometimes we are able to drive to the fireline or, as was the case at one of the EWMA wildfires, we used a hagglund – a tracked vehicle that’s low to the ground, to move crews in and out to the fireline. It’s also a great resource to bring hose and pumps to various sections of the wildfire.

Myself and Zach after demobing our main line to use this hose on the next wildfire!

Myself and Zach after demobing our main line to use this hose on the next wildfire!

While fighting the two wildfires in our home area, the lightning risk was high and some storms were moving in. One of our subcrews was selected to go on initial attack that day. One of the many awesome things about our crew is that we can be divided up and used for all types of wildfire suppression. My fellow subleader, Tommy, and his crew fought three wildfires that day. At the end of the day they were dispatched to a reported smoke that ended up being a one hectare wildfire.

Will beside the lightning tree! Troy explains how we track lightning in his last blog.

Will beside the lightning tree! Troy explains how we track lightning in his last blog.

The next day the whole unit crew was assigned to this new wildfire with tons of hose and pumps and our 20 people on the attack. We completely demolished this wildfire of any existing smokes and dug deep to reach the deep burning roots to make sure this wildfire was completely out. The next day Tommy put an ‘E’ on it, another extinguished wildfire under our belts.

We have now arrived at the Chin Complex in High Level. The sun is shining, the skies are blue and my feet are dry. This is going to be a great shift! It really is the simple things that make wildland firefighters happy!

Chin Complex

Chin Complex

Until next time – I will be working the fireline!

-Natalie

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