Members of the Britannia-Wilton Fire Department (BWFD) have made a safe return from their trip to La Ronge, where they were called to help fight the wildfires in the area that have been burning out of control.
“It’s always great to have everybody home, but it’s just as wonderful to have everybody having gone. It’s a real honour for us to have been selected to go up there because there were a lot of departments that were on standby,” said Capt. Aaron Buckingham.
“With our level of training and experience we were able to send quite a few people up and do the greater good.”
Despite the members who went to La Ronge for the 12-day journey, BWFD still managed to keep a full crew in the RM at all times so local services weren’t affected, though Buckingham admitted the day-to-day business of running the department sometimes got busy.
The fires up north are also far from extinguished, so the department says if they get another request for their services they won’t hesitate to answer the call. Buckingham says whether the request for assistance comes from near or far, they are always willing to help out.
“When the call comes, whether it’s here or abroad - way up in northern Saskatchewan or right out the front door of the fire hall - we’re there to respond to it. It’s what we do, it’s what we love doing,” he said.
Justine Boisson, a volunteer firefighter with BWFD who went up to La Ronge, says the trip was a good chance to learn more about her trade, as they got to tackle some situations that the department wasn’t used to in the Lloydminster area.
See “BWFD,” Page 13
“What we did up there was a lot different than anything we’ve experienced up here. The fires are a lot different than the grass fires we have, so it was a really great learning experience,” she said. “I’m definitely thankful that we got to go up there because, like I said, we all learned a lot and had a lot of different things that we were doing and it’s just really great to be able to go and help out other people that are in need.”
The camaraderie between the different departments who answered the call was also strong, according to Boisson, and the different groups took advantage of the opportunity to pick up on one another’s expertise. She says everyone worked well together with the common goal of managing the fires and everything “flowed real well”.
Boisson also expressed a keen willingness to go back should there be a second request for help.
“Yeah, I would definitely go again in a heart beat. I got to see a lot of cool things and I definitely love being a part of the fire department and just being a part of everything that they stand for.”
The community of La Ronge was supportive and hospitable to the firefighters during there stay, going above and beyond to make sure the crews had everything they needed while they battled the flames. Being that the town evacuated its residents as a safety precaution, Buckingham says the grocery store had a surplus of products that would have expired before people could return. The Co-op grocery store then decided to donate the food to the cause and fed the firefighters who were staying in the town.
“At one point they had the bank manager running the till at the Co-Op grocery store because there was nobody left to do it. There was all this food, milk, cheese - all these things that were going to expire. The Co-Op stepped up and fed the guys, barbecued for them, did all these things so none of this stuff went to waste because it was going to go to waste with nobody there,” said Buckingham.
If it does come to a second round of call outs both Buckingham and Boisson assure the BWFD will be ready to assist.