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TFD deployed north for wildfire assistance in 2023

Posted on October 12, 2023 by Taber Times
TImes Photo Courtesy of Town of Taber Fire Department

By Trevor Busch
Taber Times
editor@tabertimes.com

As wildfires devastated parts of northern and central Alberta in 2023, the Taber Fire Department was there to lend a helping hand in protecting property and lives.

“So we did get deployed. It was at the end of May, we did a deployment to High Prairie,” said Steve Swarbrick, assistant fire chief. “It was originally to Slave Lake, but by the time we got there they changed our direction to High Prairie.” 

According to Swarbrick, the crew involved was initially in an area that had already seen a wildfire sweep through.

“So we had a crew of four go up in the engine, and did a lot of work there, long hours helping with – the fire had already gone through once – and so we were doing a lot of hot spotting, going through the community into the properties, helped them with property assessments as well as putting out hotspots and then the truck got sent over to Drayton Valley after a few days and joined over there and did a ton of forestry work. Part of it walking through the trees for 12 hours.”

Swarbrick gained a new respect for the physicality involved in the day-to-day duties of wildland firefighters.

“A lot of work was real close with the wildfire guys, and gained a whole new respect for the wildfire guys. They do a ton of work, they haul a lot of equipment. It was nice because we came, lots of us were there, so we had to carry less. The complaining that we might have done, they were like, ‘Guys, this is nothing. We do this without you on a regular basis.’ They did a lot of work.”

The final segment for the TFD crew was assisting in the Garden Creek area. 

“From there they went to a staging area in Peace River and then off to the final tour was in Garden Creek,” said Swarbrick. 

Communities and municipalities in the region were extremely grateful for the assistance of fire departments from across southern Alberta.

“It was great to work with all the communities that were deployed as well as the actual communities that we were helping. I can speak as far as high priority goes, that was pretty emotional because they really needed help. A lot of the deployments were being sent elsewhere, so they were quite happy that we were there. They gave us some coins when we left. The deputy chief was actually crying a little bit when she came to us. It was pretty emotional. It felt good to help other people as well,” said Swarbrick.

The TFD contingent was deployed north for three weeks, or 21 days in total.

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