A crew of 100 firefighters and a nine-person management team from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Working on Fire (WOF) programme is expected to touch down today, after a successful deployment to Manitoba, Canada. Picture: Supplied
A crew of 100 firefighters and a nine-person management team from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Working on Fire (WOF) programme is expected to touch down today, after a successful deployment to Manitoba, Canada. Picture: Supplied

WATCH: SA firefighters arrive home after battling Canada blazes

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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Cape Town - Following their valiant firefighting efforts in Canada, a crew of 100 firefighter and their management team have been welcomed back to South Africa today.

A crew of 100 firefighters and a nine-person management team from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Working on Fire (WOF) programme is expected to return today, after a successful deployment to Manitoba, Canada.

The deployment involved the firefighters assisting provincial fire fighting authorities tackling wildland blazes.

The group left on August 10, and at the time of their arrival, Winnipeg, Canada, was experiencing high fire dangers, and their available wildland fire management resources within the country were exhausted and they were on their highest level, National Preparedness Level 5.

Canada has since moved to National Preparedness Level 2, indicating that wildfires were subsiding and that most of the fires were either extinguished or under control.

The firefighting divisions were deployed to various active fires in Manitoba from August 13, Loon Straits in the Eastern Sector and the Cold Lake complex in the Western Sector, where multiple fires were burning.

This is the fourth deployment of our firefighters to Canada.

The request for assistance came from the Canadian Inter-agency Forest Fire Centre which had, in terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada and South Africa, asked for firefighting assistance from WOF to assist with their fire management in Canada.

The MOU provides for the exchange of Wildland Fire Management Resources between these two countries.

International Agency Resource Representative Trevor Abrahams said: “The success of this 2021 Canadian deployment should also largely be borne out of the success of our Working on Fire programme, which has over the past 18 years demonstrated its ability to deploy large firefighting resources, both at international (Canada and Indonesia) and at domestic level (Knysna, Cape Town, Mpumalanga, Free State, Northern Cape and Garden Route).”

Loon Straits Complex (Manitoba Wildfire Services) Operations Chief, Warren Toderan said: “It was a pleasure to work with such a fine team of firefighters. They showed extreme professionalism and hard working skills.

“Any objective was accomplished immediately and effectively. Every crew member was always smiling, even when they were placed in wet swamps and difficult working conditions. Everyone enjoyed camping on the line along the fire. This was my first time, as a Manitoba firefighter, to have the chance to work with SA crews.

“It was a rewarding experience I will never forget. I learnt so much about the culture and many similarities and different challenges we face in our respective countries. Safe travels to all SA Crews and overhead.”

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