By Cole Parkinson
With firefighters now home from fighting the fires in Waterton, M.D. council had a chance to give thanks to those who went out.
During their regular meeting on Sept. 26, the M.D. board welcomed six out of the 10 member team that were dispatched to conquer the fires that were threatening Waterton.
In attendance were firefighters Dana Butler, Chantal Bacho, Henry Peters, Frank Redecop,Gareth Strydom and Captain Ginger Rose.
Missing from the core 10 were Deputy Station Chief Kirk Hughes, Deputy Station Chief Curtis Macleod, lieutenant Henry Reimer and firefighter Johnny Zacharias.
Also in attendance was Brian Schafer, fire chief for the M.D. Fire Services, who gave the council a quick report.
“I’m sure you guys are all aware that they went to Waterton Sunday, September 10 and all hell broke loose on September 11. These guys were right in the middle of the fire storm when we left, the town site was still standing so they did an awesome job,” said Schafer.
“We were from Cameron Falls south, that was our area along with Stirling and Raymond. We worked together with two other departments, the command structure was set up very well with no issues, all of the departments got a long and we worked together very well.”
The department has also heard their thanks from the community of Waterton and they’ve received a nice offer the next time they make their way out, hopefully under better circumstances.
“I know we’ve already gotten a few invitations to come out and attend barbecues for the members that were there and that’s pretty awesome,” said Schafer.
M.D. council gave the go ahead for the department to go to the national park.
With the staff all back successfully, the board members each had an opportunity to give their thanks for the work that they did.
“On behalf of council, thanks for going out there and what you did. I saw some pictures of it and it must have been something to watch with that fire coming down the mountain right at you. It’s one I think you’re going to all talk about it for the rest of your life and refer back to. We appreciate not only that but all of the work you’ve been doing,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D. of Taber.
One councillor was at the fire hall when the group left and he said that it was tough to watch them leave as they knew the danger that they were heading towards.
“I saw the look on your family’s faces, they were all concerned. If you would have been here at the council meeting the next Tuesday you would have saw a whole bunch of councillors with their eyes droopy, that was a lot of weight on our shoulders after we approved that you went. It was easier for you guys, you’re there, you see what’s going on and the rest of us just have to imagine so we know what your families went through while you were there. The council was thinking of you guys, too, so thanks,” said Coun. Bob Wallace.
Some even likened it to seeing their own kids heading off.
“I know that when we approved you to go, I have to reiterate what Bob said because it was like sending my own kids so I did take it very seriously sending you guys and I really appreciate it,” said Dwight Tolton, deputy reeve for the M.D. of Taber.
Had the fire continued to be a threat, the M.D. council and M.D. Fire Department were ready to send another 10 firefighters.
“We had 10 individuals from three of our regional stations, we were able to still have cohesiveness and that really speaks to how far we’ve come in a short time, 18 months,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber. “It demonstrates the effectiveness and the need for what we’ve done in terms of utilizing our fire service. It really flies in the face of what we heard when we started this, you know ‘you’ll never get volunteers, you’ll never get people out to do this’ and when I talked to some of the people that have joined in the last 18 months, there answers are generally the same ‘nobody ever asked me and the quality of the people that we have in our service is amazing.”
While the focus has been on those who went to Waterton, some of the thanks has to go to those who stayed as the firefighters say they don’t think enough recognition has gone their way.
“It’s real comforting that it is 10 per cent of our work force of the volunteers that we sent and that just goes to the strength of the division of regional fire service. We were able to go somewhere else and still be able to protect our boarders,” said firefighter Dana Butler. “Thanks has to be given to the home guard that stayed behind.”
While nobody wants to see a fire like this again anytime soon, the M.D. Fire Department knows if this situation arises again they will be more than ready for the call with all the resources it possesses.
“I think how we performed there, we will be on that POC call out list a little sooner knowing that we have the man power, the equipment and still not short the service” said Schafer. “That spoke volumes for our service as well.”