100 Mile House Fire Rescue is on track for a record-breaking number of calls for the second year in a row.
Fire chief Roger Hollander said the 27-person department has already responded to 411 calls. In a typical year, they’d respond anywhere between 300 to 400 calls, with 470 being their record.
“It’s extremely busy. For a small on-call department we’re very busy. Of 82 departments we’re the fourth busiest in the region,” Hollander said. “(Not) burning my members out is at the top of my mind. Each year it seems to get busier and it makes me think how long we can commit to providing the services the public demands?”
“We are committed and we are here for this community as an organization and we will do anything we can to make sure we can respond (to all calls).”
Keeping his firefighters healthy, mentally and physically, is always on Hollander’s mind. This is especially the case after the 2021 wildfire season this summer. While his team didn’t spend their time actively fighting the fires he said it was still a stressful time for everyone.
When the Deka Lake fire broke out June 30, Hollander and other members helped the 100 Mile RCMP tactically evacuate Deka Lake, going door to door to notify residents. They then helped the Cariboo Regional District and Deka Lake and District Volunteer Fire Department set up structural protection units throughout the community.
The work later progressed to protecting properties along the 93 Mile Loop from the Flat Lake wildfire. Hollander said they began fire-smarting the area as residents were evacuated, removing propane tanks, piles of wood and other combustible materials from the sides of homes.
“I and deputy fire chief Brandon Bougie assisted with our District of 100 Mile House emergency operation’s centre,” Hollander said. “Every day, every minute so to speak, we were on the verge of evacuating the town, so there was lots to do and some sleepless nights.”
As many of his firefighters’ families were evacuated during the summer, Hollander commends them all the more for the time they put in. Dealing with this stress on top of the high volume of regular calls isn’t easy, he said.
“I think the men and women here did a great job handling that stress,” Hollander said. “If we don’t have those people stepping up and being willing to contribute we don’t have a fire department. There’s only two of us that are full-time, the rest are paid on call.”
The department will be recruiting in February but is always open to accepting applications via their website ahead of their recruitment drive.