“If you were to ask the question of ‘how we’re doing’ the answer would be ‘we’re doing ok’.”
Those were the words of the BC Wildfire Service’s Director of Provincial Operations Cliff Chapman, addressing how the members of the service are doing following the death of a second wildfire firefighter in our province this season.
“The truth is it’s heavy, and our people are continuing to show up every day to support the firefighting effort on the ground,” Chapman said.
“The loss of life is obviously tragic, and something we haven’t experienced a great deal in BC over the past decade or two, and it’s not something we want to experience moving forward.”
Chapman said the support and concern for the Wildfire Service from the public has been appreciated.
“From a personal side, I’ve been in this organization for 21 years, I started as a firefighter as a 17-year-old kid, and have worked my way through the organization to now where I am Director of Provincial Operations for the BC Wildfire Service,” he said.
“I have never felt the heaviness that we are feeling this season with the tragic loss of two individuals in BC on fires. We’ve certainly appreciated the condolences ”
Chapman said over the last number of years, the BC Wildfire Service has put significant work into their worker’s health.
“We’ve done initiatives to support resiliency, mental health, emotional health, and physical health for our staff, but it’s not enough, and we need to continue,” he said.
“The challenge with people focused, it’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity, with people-focused work and initiatives to look after the responders that are out there trying to look after the communities and the resources in BC, is there is no finish line. We need to continue to learn from other agencies, we need to continue to learn from our own people and their experiences to put programs in place for our staff so they can continue to feel the support that they are feeling.”