A deployment of 16 First Nations firefighters from the Yukon are heading to B.C. Friday to provide the province with flood response and recovery assistance.
The firefighters are members of Yukon First Nations Wildfire (YFNW), a wildfire fighting service that has a contract with First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of British Columbia(FNESS).
For weeks B.C. has been grappling with severe storms causing intense flooding, mudslides and highway wash-outs. It led the province to declare a state of emergency last month.
FNESS is sending the firefighters into impacted communities across southern B.C. to help the organization with its flood recovery efforts.
“It really excites me to go down with such a positive group,” says Tanner Borsa, a member of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation and squadron leader with YFNW.
Borsa will be deployed in Kamloops.
He says he’s looking forward to helping Yukon’s southern neighbor.
“When trips like especially across borders come into our office it’s really just a good experience to show what our company is capable of doing,” he says.
Borsa says he’ll primarily be doing jobs like sandbagging and structure protection.
“It could be moving livestock to a safer environment, pretty much anything the community needs,” he says.
This summer YFNW helped with major flooding in Yukon’s Southern Lakes region.
Jesse Latoski, a sustained action resource manager with YFNW, says the experience from this summer will help them while they’re in B.C.
“There is a lot of transferable skills as there is a banner of emergency management so the command structures will be similar to a fire. These crews will be there to help in whatever capacity they can, whether that be lifting boxes out of someone’s basement or helping transition people to a shelter,” he says.
He notes several YFNW crew members were also in B.C. this summer helping the province battle wildfires.
“(YFNW) is eager to help,” he says.
“They’re looking forward to providing assistance to communities down there and kind of build that relationship with B.C. that we have, and continues to grow stronger.”
The deployment will stay in B.C. for two weeks.