Extreme heat, difficult terrain, hefty backpacks: B.C. wildfire fighting not for faint of heart - InfoNews

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Extreme heat, difficult terrain, hefty backpacks: B.C. wildfire fighting not for faint of heart

Image Credit: SUBMITTED / B.C. Wildfire Service
August 24, 2019 - 6:00 AM

PENTICTON - You’ve got to be in shape to work a wildfire in British Columbia, and not just because you’re working in mountainous terrain.

In a job already made difficult by the strenuous work, generally hot conditions and smoky air, B.C.’s wildfire-fighting crews carry backpacks of essential gear weighing between 30 and 40 pounds when on the fire line.

According to information officer Hannah Swift, the packs are never to leave their side, making a long, strenuous day on the fire front even more so.

The equipment is essential to safety and the job at hand. Here’s a look at what’s inside those bags.

Additional firefighting equipment might include such things as:

  • hose clamp
  • headlamp
  • chinstrap
  • danger tree assessor’s book
  • 5/8 inch forestry hose, typically 2 to 4 rolls of 50-foot hose carried
  • hanson nozzle, econo nozzles, “three-way” valve and a water thief
  • extra radio batteries

Firefighters also carry a pulaski tool for constructing fireguard or to remove fuels from a fire, in addition to personal items such as:

  • safety glasses
  • pens and notepads
  • ear plugs
  • gatorade packs
  • protein bars and extra snacks
  • mosquito repellent
  • gloves
  • rain jacket
  • hardhat
  • first aid kit
  • water

Swift says the above list is just an example of what the contents of a firefighter’s backpack might contain.

“Other items might include danger tree ribbon tape, flagging tape, a weather kestral and sling cyclometer for weather readings -  the list goes on," she says.

Some of the possible contents of a wildfire firefighter's backpack.
Some of the possible contents of a wildfire firefighter's backpack.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / B.C. Wildfire Service

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